Whether you believe that Donington will be ready for the 2010 British Grand Prix or not is, at the moment, immaterial, as work on the track is already underway and everyone at the circuit is extremely upbeat. Especially Simon Gillett.
On a recent trip north I sampled the track for the first time on a simulator and if it is built then it will be a highlight of the Formula 1 calendar. Along with the Craner Curves, drivers will have to negotiate a new tricky inner loop and the steepest hill in Formula 1. It should be a corker.
I’ve added times into the words from Simon Gillett as he talks you through the new track and facilities so take a look for yourselves. Do excuse the sound of the video – I’m hoping the future Formula 1 cars don’t sound like that when they’re braking into a corner… Also he was talking through it while ‘onboard’…
[Time: 0.00] “I’m on the startline now, which currently is where the Dunlop Bridge would be. On the right hand side we’ve got our new pit and paddock area, plenty of garages on ground level and then 5000-person hospitality units above the grandstanding on the front over two stories.
“We head off down the pit straight; this on a flying lap is 1001 metres long with about 205mph into the braking zone here where we’ve got pretty much a dead stop into a 180 degree, 55mph corner, which is our existing Melbourne Hairpin. [0.10]
“Climbing up here, ordinarily we’d be looking to turn left now round Goddards but this is the exciting bit, our new infield loop that’s yet unnamed. [0.22] This drops down quite significantly, about 28 metres in elevation changes here, dropping down an eight percent fall into another slow corner.
“There you can see our clubhouse up on the right-hand side [0.29], these are our debenture members sat up there, 3000 of them in that clubhouse. This bit of Tarmac that I’m on now is the steepest bit of Tarmac in Formula 1, even steeper than Eau Rouge in Belgium [0.32].
“Coming round and joining the existing track now, that’s the existing pit and paddock on the left [0.36] and here we’ve got the new Redgate suites [0.44]; three stories of suites, 130 of them and new grandstanding. Interesting addition and quite a new concept on the right are 20 houses [0.49]. These houses are for the wealthy to come and store their cars in the basement and they’ve got their own pitlane and they’ve got their own track days that they can come out on and enjoy the circuit – it’s a bit of a motor sport’s club.
“From the previous corner onwards the circuit remains pretty much unchanged all the way through to Coppice Corner because if I touched any of this –the Craner Curves – I quite rightly would be lynched [0.57].
“The famous Craner Curves and the old hairpin [1.07]: we’ve got the new grandstand on the left and then the Starkey suites up there as well – a new set of suites replacing the Starkey’s bar.
“What we’re doing is keeping all the grass banking through here as natural spectating points which will stay in place. Not everyone is going to be sat in their suites, people will have the opportunity to bring a rug, have a picnic here and have a reasonable day out at the Grand Prix… financially reasonable day that is. Coppice Corner is now a bit tighter to promote a bit of overtaking into there [1.14].
“So here we go, this is 1001 metres now, race control there, the Formula 1 podium, we go over the crest, downhill and then you’ve got to try and stop it to get it into turn one.
“So there we are, that’s the 2010 lap.”