Radical redesign for Silverstone

Silverstone has announced a radical raft of plans that are set to revamp the venue into a world-leading race track and secure the long-term future of the British Grand Prix

Radical redesign for Silverstone

The facelift, revealed in this week's Autosport magazine, is due to be completed by 2003 and constitutes the biggest change to the home of British motor racing in 52 years.

The plans include moving the pit complex and start/finish line from Woodcote to the straight that links Abbey and Club corners, as well as an infield section using the international circuit that incorporates a new hairpin. The final corner will be Club, which will be turned into a high-speed banked curve.

The changes come in the wake of a great deal of criticism for the Northamptonshire circuit after car parks were turned to quagmires by torrential rain at last year's GP. The dramatic improvements should finally remove the threat of losing the British GP date.

"At the moment, Silverstone can't match the facilities in other parts of the world," said Sir Jackie Stewart, president of the British Racing Drivers' Club, which owns the circuit. "We have to make Silverstone a centre of excellence.

"We have to accept that there's a very real chance of losing a great British sporting event. We've got to find new ways to do business, or we'll die."

The track layout has been drawn-up by design company Tilke and has been designed with television and spectators in mind. The new hairpin after Abbey should be a new overtaking spot and also offers more space for grandstands.

"It should be great for fans and for TV," said BRDC chairman Martin Brundle. "Cars will be going into the new corner side-by-side and there will be opportunities for overtaking."

However, the downside to the modifications means the challenging 160mph Bridge corner will be lost, along with the slower Priory left-hander, but Stewart says the circuit changes have been given the thumbs-up by world championship pacesetters Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard.

"The new track design has been reviewed by David and Michael, who have approved it," said Sir Jackie. "Silverstone has always been a driver's track. The changes we're making will take it on."

For more details of the modifications, and a full layout of the new circuit, see this week's Autosport magazine, on sale from Thursday, June 21.

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