Silverstone track set for major facelift

Silverstone is forging ahead with ambitious circuit developments as it fights to maintain its status as a venue worthy of hosting Grands Prix.

As Motor Sport closed for press, negotiations with Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone were going on to secure a deal for Silverstone to host the British GP next year and beyond. The talks have come in the wake of Donington Park’s failure to raise the £135 million it needed for a major redevelopment to meet the demands of its own 17-year contract.

The main sticking point for Silverstone is believed to be that Ecclestone has offered the same deal that the circuit’s owner, the British Racing Drivers’ Club, rejected as not viable in 2008.

Silverstone has gained planning approval for circuit changes that include a new infield loop (above) designed for its first MotoGP race, to be held on June 20 next year in the wake of the circuit outbidding Donington to host the premier motorcycle series. The revised layout could be used by F1 in the future, if a deal is completed.

“It’s been approved for MotoGP, but at the moment we don’t have F1 so the FIA hasn’t been down to look at the circuit,” a track spokesman told Motor Sport. “It has been designed with a view to hosting both two- and four-wheeled events, which will hopefully include F1 if we get the Grand Prix back.”

Modifications also include a tighter Chapel corner and revisions to Club corner, while a new state-of-the-art pit and paddock complex between Club and Abbey is also planned.

“The old pits would remain,” said the spokesman. “The view back in 2007 and 2008 before F1 moved away was that the various configurations of the circuit would be used in different ways as would both the pit areas.”

A new Stowe Complex will also be developed around a revised 1.15-mile infield circuit, with new pit garages, wet handling facilities, hospitality buildings and an off-road stage being added. “Planning has all been granted and realistically we’re hoping the work on the new sections of the MotoGP track, all the other track modifications and the Stowe Complex will start in the next two to three weeks,” said the spokesman.