Silverstone raises its game in GP battle

Silverstone circuit has unveiled plans to build a completely new pits complex and media centre in order to put the Northamptonshire track back in the running to host the 2002 British Grand Prix, according to this week's Autosport magazine

Silverstone raises its game in GP battle

Circuit bosses are set to spend £8.5 million to bring Silverstone up to current Formula 1 standards with a new pitlane on the Hangar straight which would become the new start-finish point for the Grand Prix. The existing pit complex would be used for the Formula 3000 International Championship support race.

The announcement of the changes comes after the track, owned by the British Racing Drivers Club, attracted more criticism from Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone over the state of its facilities.

"It's not a case of a repaint job anymore. It needs rebuilding," he said.

Silverstone is currently vying to be the host venue for the 2002 British GP with Donington Park and Brands Hatch. The rights to promote the race from 2002 onwards are held by BHL, which owns Brands Hatch. However, problems with obtaining planning permission to make necessary changes to the Kent circuit have led to alternative venues being considered.

In addition to the new pits centre at Silverstone, a new link road for F1 personnel, running from the A413 to Beckett's corner, will also be built as part of the changes at a cost of £1.5 million.

"We will create a new centre, exclusively reserved for Formula 1," said Silverstone boss Denys Rohan. "The garages will be allocated to teams and they will be able to fit them out however they like. They could even be used as permanent testing facilities, depending on the testing rules."

Rohan believes that Silverstone has less planning bureaucracy to fight through compared to its rivals, claiming that improvements at Brands Hatch will cost five times more and Donington's changes are made more difficult by the track's location next to an airport.

BRDC president Jackie Stewart said: "Silverstone will always be the most commercially viable race-circuit for the British Grand Prix. Elsewhere the numbers will have difficulty adding up and no planning decision will ever change that."

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