Silverstone 'can become world's best'

Nigel Mansell believes Silverstone now has the opportunity to become the best motorsport facility in the world on the back of its latest revamp

Silverstone 'can become world's best'

As the track unveiled its new £28 million 'Wing' pit and paddock complex on Tuesday, Mansell joined a host of stars in praising the efforts of the track owners, who have transformed Silverstone in recent years.

And, with the 'Wing' having also received backing from previous track critic Bernie Ecclestone, Mansell says he has no illusions about the opportunity Silverstone now has.

"Silverstone, where it needs to be now, is going to be, I hope, a world leader in the next 10 years," said Mansell at Silverstone. "We have always had the circuit here.

"Going forward, seeing what Damon [Hill, BRDC president] has done with his team and the board, and the BRDC members, you have now a 10-year opportunity to make this the best facility, bar none, in the world.

"The racing history of this circuit is second to none in the world. You have got every corner there - and to have a circuit that complements two wheels and four wheels is something very, very special too. So Silverstone now has moved forward in a massive way and hopefully it can be improved year-on-year."

While there has been no doubt that Silverstone's track layout is one of the best on the calendar, the venue has always faced a battle to create the facilities to take on state-of-the-art places like Abu Dhabi and China.

However, the 'Wing' marks the end of a first phase of developments, and leaves leading motor racing figures confident about where the Northamptonshire venue can go from here.

Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner said: "This place, Silverstone, it is the natural home of grand prix racing in the UK. I remember as a youngster supporting Mansell and Hill and seeing some fantastic races while I was growing up watching F1.

"As a team principal with Red Bull Racing we have been fortunate enough to win the grand prix for the past two years and would clearly love to make it a hat trick at the opening of facility.

"F1 visits some incredible facilities over the world. Silverstone has always stood out as a drivers' circuit but now with the complex and facility that this new 'Wing' provides, it really does set the benchmark among the GP circuits of having the combination exactly right - it is going to be fantastic to come back here, fantastic to see the pitlane alive with grand prix cars, and great for the fans."

Jenson Button said: "I think they have done a great job with the facilities, so it is great to see they have achieved so much in such a short space of time. We should all be proud of the new facility, and it lifts the British GP to hopefully being the best grand prix in the world."

Mark Webber added: "What is important today is to remember the politics that go on, particularly in F1 with a big sporting event, and that it is not easy to keep the venue and the event here.

"We have seen that Bernie is pretty tough at times, so that is a real credit to the guys that they have managed to do this. I can see a clear change in the last few years we have been here - the lawns are immaculate, and clearly today is the launch and there is a lot more to come. But you can clearly see the effort and there is a lot more precision going into things.

"That is something to be proud of going forward and the event will be here for a long, long time for the future - that is important for now and the future, the longevity, lots of different reasons."

Ecclestone was unable to attend the opening of the new 'Wing' on Tuesday - which boasted the presence of notable stars including Valentino Rossi, Button, Mansell, John Surtees, Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart.

However, Ecclestone did send a message of support - which included a tongue-in-cheek question as to why the track had not built such a good venue long ago.

"I'm very sorry that I'm not here on this important occasion for Formula 1 and the future of Silverstone," he said in a statement that was read out at the launch.

"But rest assured I've followed all the progress and the pits and paddock complex is a state of the art facility and will form the backbone of Silverstone's plans to become a world class facility.

"It's a great shame it couldn't have been completed 10 years' ago - but well done Silverstone."

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