Mixed response to new Silverstone
|By Simon Strang||Saturday, May 1st 2010, 11:37 GMT|
The new 3.7-mile Silverstone 'Arena' Grand Prix track has received mixed reviews from drivers competing in this weekend's FIA GT World Championship round.
Some, like Aston Martin's Darren Turner and former GT1 Le Mans winner Oliver Gavin gave the new layout - which was originally designed to cater for the return of the British MotoGP in June – a resounding thumbs up.
Others such as former Renault Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean believed the track not as good as its predecessor.
"It's nothing special," said Grosjean – who raced on the previous track in GP2. "We have lost Bridge and the complex which was very nice and we didn't gain much with the new part. I'm not a 100 per cent convinced.
"With the single-seater cars they are flat-out through Abbey and in Formula 1 it is going to be very fast as well. I don't think it gives any overtaking opportunities. So that's a bit a shame."
Sumo Nissan drivers Warren Hughes and Jamie Campbell-Walter added that they reckoned the new Village/Loop section following the fast Abbey section had broken up the flow of the track.
"I've got very mixed feelings simply because I really liked the old layout," said Hughes. "If I was driving here for the first time then maybe I would have a different perception. But for me they have taken away two really challenging corners at Bridge and Priory and replaced them with some good kinks but also a slow-speed section which is very frustrating.
"I'm not sure what that brings to the whole thing. It spoils the flow of the rest of the track. Abbey and the left kink afterwards are nice, you can get your teeth into them. The kink onto the national straight is nice as well, and Brooklands is good because you arrive at good speed – it's just that fiddly bit really breaks up the flow."
Campbell-Walter was more outspoken: "They have got no excuses. They had an open field and they could have done what they liked, but they chose a stop-start chicane.
"I know they have compromised for the bikes, but what's to stop us using the old Bridge section and keep the new bit for the bikes?
"Basically the new home of the British Grand Prix is a track suited to bikes and I don't think that should be the case."
Turner however, who took pole position for the qualifying race, was delighted with the changes.
"It's good," he said. "It will be even better when they get rid of all the mud, because at the moment it's quite easy to drag that back on the track. But I like the corners and it's got bumps – which is a good thing.
"There are a few on the entry of Abbey at the part of the track that you'd want to turn in, which makes the corner difficult."
Gavin echoed Turner's views adding that he felt it would add a new dimension to car racing at Silverstone.
"I think the circuit flows very nicely I'm very happy with it," he said. "It's got a nice combination of corners and some nice challenging stuff for us. There are two are three corners that are nearly flat and one or two that you have got to have a lot of commitment.
"The style of Silverstone has been carried on. The first right of Abbey and then the following left is a good combination and then heavy braking into Village.
"Surprisingly the Tarmac has got good grip, great for getting the power down and it is really unusual running on the national straight! You have got so used to racing under that Bridge. They have done a cracking job with it, I'm really very happy with it.
"I think that it is going to be a fantastic track not only for us, but for Formula 1, for MotoGP, they have really ticked all the boxes."