Silverstone opens new Arena circuit, expects cars to hit 185mph at Abbey

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David Coulthard performs the first doughnuts on Silverstone's new Village corner

The revised Silverstone Arena Circuit, which will hold the 2010 British Grand Prix, was formally opened today by the Duke of York in a ceremony at the track.

BRDC President Damon Hill drove the Duke around the circuit. Current and past F1 drivers were on hand for the unveiling of the track including Mark Webber and David Coulthard.

Webber praised the new circuit and said he expects it to play to the strengths of his Red Bull RB6:

I think the track will suit our car. We’re competitive at all circuits at the moment, and the new section has high-speed and low-speed corners. It’s also got some undulation which is hard to see we’ll definitely notice it in the F1 cars.
Mark Webber

Red Bull estimate F1 cars will hit 185mph through the two fast corners which direct them off the old track. The right-hander keeps the name Abbey, and the left-hander it feeds into is called Farm.

They are now followed by a sharp right at Village, then a pair of left-handers called The Loop. From there the cars re-join the existing track via the Wellington Straight, which could surpass the Hangar Straight as the fastest point on the Silverstone circuit when the F1 cars race there in July.

The revised track is expected to have a similar average speed to the previous track, with a slightly longer lap time.

David Coulthard became the first person to drive an F1 car around the new circuit after its official opening, piloting the Red Bull running showcar. His first impressions of the new section were positive and he feels the track has retained its high-speed character:

It’s very fast on the way into Abbey.

But we still have all the hallmarks of the original circuit. The corners are very high speed and some of the entries are blind because it’s built on an airfield.
David Coulthard

Damon Hill praised the construction work done to prepare the new circuit – with one access road only being completed the day before the opening. A harsh winter with weeks of heavy snow delayed the building work. Hill said:

The team have done a fantastic job under very difficult circumstances.
Damon Hill

He also declared his relief that after years of dispute Silverstone finally has a long-term contract to hold the British Grand Prix:

We’re very happy we’ve beaten down Mr Ecclestone as far as possible to get as good a deal we can on this ten year contract, with a potential extension for 17 years. We are now the only private enterprise running a Grand Prix.

Now we have a new circuit for a new generation of people to enjoy motor sport the way we think they should.
Damon Hill

The circuit extension was formally opened by the Duke of York who said:

High performance engineering is very important to the UK economy. Motor sport is at the pinnacle of this industry and it’s through events like Formula 1 and bikes that we can demonstrate our expertise. I hope the future will be bright for Formula 1 and high performance engineering in the UK.

He was later taken around the track in a two-seater racing car by Hill. “He hasn’t been around the circuit yet” said the Duke. “I’m not sure what I’m letting myself in for.”

Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips explained that the need to re-configure the track came from the desire to accommodate Moto GP, which has moved its British round from Donington to Silverstone:

The old bike circuit with the chicane in front of the pits wasn’t very well-liked. This whole section was needed so that we could avoid Bridge.

More work will be done before the Grand Prix. The grandstand in front of Village will be ten times larger and raised higher to improve the sight lines for the spectators.

It’s been inspected by FIA and has grade one licence for the next three years. Bernie Ecclestone has said he likes the track but he hasn’t been to see it yet. It would have been nice to see him here today, but he doesn’t like large gatherings.
Richard Phillips

The Silverstone Arena track will hold its first major international race meeting this weekend – the GT1 series – ahead of the British Grand Prix in July.

Update: Read more of Phillips’ thoughts on the track here: Silverstone boss explains why they didn’t use Tilke for Arena track upgrades

Silverstone Arena launch pictures

Silverstone Arena circuit

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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76 comments on “Silverstone opens new Arena circuit, expects cars to hit 185mph at Abbey”

  1. Looks good on paper, lets wait and see, will it work for us?
    It’s nice to see Tilke did not have his hands on this project!

    1. maybe tilke woudnt have changed the last sector (just the last corners are included) which was my favourite part of the circuit somehow e could have maintened that part alive

  2. At least they have attempted to name the corners unlike most new F1 tracks.

    I have one problem with this new development – why are they changing Chapel?

    1. It’s got to have something to do with re profiling it to make the corner safer for the MotoGP guys.

    2. James Brickles
      29th April 2010, 16:33

      I think F1 are still using the old chapel. Only MotoGP are using the tighter chapel

    3. cars will use the normal chapel line, the bikes a new line.

      Or at least thats what the plans said a few months ago.

      1. They will now both use the same line, they’ve changed it. See here:

        Silverstone boss explains why they didn’t use Tilke for Arena track upgrades

        1. Chapel corner isn’t mentioned in that link, Keith. If you go to the Silverstone website, there is a a video of the new track being used. Becketts and Chapel haven’t changed for the new F1 circuit. When the car goes around Chapel you can actually see the “new part” on the right.

          Here is a screenshot of what I made to explain:

          Here is a link to the whole video:

          Hope that helps. :D xxx

          1. Thanks, hopefully they don’t change their minds

          2. Thanks for the picture and video link.

  3. Just a bit more of the same, Red Bull will win it again this year

    1. the mclaren’s advanced f-duct will be a massive advantage at this circuit.

      1. I think there are four distinct straights where the F-Duct will be noticable on this circuit.

        On the other hand by that time you’d have to assume that other teams will have at least working F-Ducts.

        1. So we can have a nice comparison of the different interpretations. Will the McLaren have the advantage by getting at it firs, or will anybody be able to design, incorporate it into the car and race a more effective system?

  4. I’m still waiting to find out what happens to those who have tickets for Abbey? The old Abbey grandstand is too far away and looking at a now redundant part of the track.

    Haven’t seen any new grandstand go up yet or any mention of a new seating arrangement.

    1. In the article Keith quotes Richard Phillips as saying

      More work will be done before the Grand Prix. The grandstand in front of Village will be ten times larger and raised higher to improve the sight lines for the spectators.

      I suppose the work will include the move of the Abbey grandstand (to the other side of the track) they promised when first introducing the arena part.

  5. Can anyone confirm if the new infield section will be used for the FIA GT this coming weekend?

    Looks great by the way, can’t wait to get there and see it for myself :-)

    1. Yeah mate, according to wiki the arena circuit is going to be used.

    2. I think they are planning to use it this weekend Ben.

    3. Yep (and I’ll be there on Sunday)

  6. I think it looks good, I can see some interesting potential for overtaking on the outside of turn 16.
    But I agree the old shape to Chapel was better allowing drivers to begin accelerating into Hanger Straight. Its a bit too tight and keeps the speed down until they’re right out.
    Also looks like they’ve kind of straightened up the entry and sharpened the corner at Club, or am I mistaken?

    1. where did you hear they were changing chapel?

      1. On Keith’s map. You can see the old shape and the new one marked with the red line.

        1. Thats only for MotoGP, the old run through chapel hasnt been touched for F1, theyve not changed it.

  7. I think it will add about as much to the F1 spectacle as the new loop at Bahrain. Should at least be good for the bikes, though.

    1. How come? They’ve added a few fast corners and a couple of genuine overtaking spots. The new corners at Bahrain were all pathetic, with the exception of Turn 6. Plus, they reckon Silverstone will become the worlds fastest circuit, which is quite an accolade

      1. Fastest, really? I’m fairly sure Monza won’t have any trouble retaining that crown.

        Still this is certainly a better improvment than adding an endurance section. Two new possible overtaking spots a fast bendy straight an a long flat.

        I’m cautiously optimistic about this change, at least it’ll be wide, might improve the track, hard to see how it’ll ruin it, doesn’t seem to have altered it’s character like the Bahrain extention, wish “the loop” was still a single hairpin.

        1. What do they mean by fastest? If it is highest top speed I would have thought Monza would have that title, but if they meant fastest average lap speed I could well believe that would be possible for Silverstone to claim.

          Wasn’t the record for the fastest lap ever in F1 held by Silverstone from a qualifying lap by Keke Rosberg in a Williams Honda at the 1985 British GP until Juan Pablo Montoya beat it at Monza in 2002 in a Williams BMW.

      2. “Genuine overtaking spots?” There are two new heavy braking zones, but the previous corners are too fast for any F1 car to follow closely and pull an overtaking move. All the new section serves to do is elongate the track without adding anything to the spectacle – exactly the same as Bahrain.

        1. Well, possible overtaking spots where there were none an a simular feel to the rest of the circuit. Rather different to Bahrain.

          Silverstone is a ciruit that can often produce boring races, this new section won’t make that any more likley might make it less likley, completley the opposite to Bahrain, though of course pre-change Bahrain was capable of causing zzzzz.

          As track changes go it all feels a lot more thought out, an we must remember that the BRDC doesn’t only have us to worry about, hopefully it will create a great motoGP track an improve the cicuit for other discaplines.

        2. All the new section serves to do is elongate the track without adding anything to the spectacle – exactly the same as Bahrain.

          The new Abbey looks very promising.

          And there’s now a long, straight run towards Brooklands, preceded by a slow corner, which could provide an opportunity.

          I say these changes are vastly better thought-out than using the sports car track at Bahrain was.

          1. I agree, it looks a lot better now. I hope it’ll be a stunning race !
            Way better thought out than Bahrain, those guys should come and take a look how you revamp a circuit.

    2. Now a loop really would be good. Do F1 cars have enough downforce for that? That would really improve the show :)

  8. Is there any need for the tight left hander at Vale, why not use the little short cut bit. It will make following right hander much more demanding and faster.

  9. Schumi_the_greatest
    29th April 2010, 15:30

    Why do they have to avoid bridge for moto gp? pardon my ingorance i dont know much about moto gp. Bridge was 1 of the best corners left in f1

    1. I think the lack of runoff area was considered to be too dangerous. It was pretty risky for F1 cars too – remember Trulli’s heavy accident there in 2004. Though it was a great corner.

    2. I don’t agree – Bridge was neutered after they put in the chicane at Abbey.

      1. Exactly – people bang on about Bridge but it just ain’t Bridge anymore ! :(

    3. Apparently it was the bridge itself that was the problem, not sure why

      1. Because if a man on a bike hits a wall while going faster than 100mph.

        That man is a dead man.

  10. The new right- left at Abbey looks as though it might be one of the very best corners in F1. I just hope it’s not easy flat out.

    What model car is that Mercedes in the picture? It doesn’t look like their 2010 car or last years Brawn. Maybe they’ve just updated the nose cone for the next race?

    1. no its a display model. look at how simple the wing/endplates are.

      1. plus the rear wing is from a 07/08 car

    2. Isn’t it the Honda RA108 that Bruno Senna tested after the 2008 season, painted in Mercedes GP colours? It was essentially the 2008 car with a prototype 2009 front wing on it.

      1. Good call GeeMac, I think you’re right. Here’s a better picture:

        That white, green and blue Honda livery is great! One of the best liveries of the decade IMO, though the stripes down the nose spoil it a bit. And while I’m off on a tangent I’d also like to profess my love for this beauty:

      2. GeeMac’s dead right. It took me a while to work that one out because it clearly wasn’t the Brawn nose!

  11. Pity Bridge has gone but I think it should still be a good track. As long as it keeps its speed!

  12. I assume Richard Phillips had his tongue lodged firmly in his cheek – Bernie doesn’t like large gatherings?!

    You can see how much he hates wandering around on the grid in Monaco with Naomi Campbell every year…

    1. It must be hard bumping in to all those knee caps all the time – maybe that’s why Bernie’s face looks so dishevelled/pinched :)

  13. That’s the interim 2008/2009 honda test car in Merecedes colours

  14. Its not made it worse, but its only made it slightly better. I think we all love to see cars going nearly flat-out through corners and into chicanes.

  15. I don’t know why they didn’t go for the arrowhead configuration for F1 cars. I’m sure it might be dangerous for bikers but I wish they’d built both, which depending where they put the grandstands surley wouldn’t have been imposible.

    A proper hairpin would have created an overtaking spot like the one in Malaysia, long double straight, sharp non-downforce dependant corner. “The Loop” will probably just space the cars out.

    Damon Hill said this configuration wasn’t what he originally wanted, an I hope it’ll improve the track, still arrowhead looked so good I still hope they build it.

  16. I desperately didn’t want that shambles that was the Donnington bid to succeed.

    I was overjoyed to hear that Silverstone had been awarded the event.

    Now I am, of course, delighted to have spend £700 on tickets at Luffield to be presented with less time with the cars in my field of view.

    Appalling, Silverstone. I don’t think I’ll be returning.

    1. I’m rather annoyed by the new start finish Grandstands. Surley if the put them on the other side of the track everyone would be able to see more.

    2. You might see them less, but the fact that they are going through Brooklands and into Luffield at higher speeds than before could make it more fun to watch, IMO.

      As for the ticket price, well, that’s just highway robbery!

  17. Keith, what is this car that pretends to be a this year’s Mercedes (Mercedes livery) but isn’t one??

    [The one on the “Damon Hill and the Duke of York unveil a plaque marking the new track” picture obviously.]

    1. Read up the thread, GeeMac has a picture of exactly what it is.

      It’s a Honda RA108 without appendages an a prototype 2009 spec front wing.

  18. I liked the old one, but this modifications look interesting.
    Brookland will be much more interesting…Chapel is now more long, probably will need much more “driving” and allow less speed on hangar straight. Don’t see any needs for this last one.
    Anyway, wait and see. Looks more interesting than Bahrein toboga…!

  19. Abbey should be banked 10-15 degrees.

    There is no way the cars can go through there side be side, or nose to tail, and the new fast corners will only serve to string out the field. And since it looks like there is a wide expanse of tarmac there, I expect to see much controversy about people taking 180mph personal track redesigns, or getting forced off, etc. But I agree that the new configuration offers some hope for passing into 16-18. Corners with multiple fast lines, a la, Brazil, is what we need more of.

  20. I’ll be surprised if it really is average-speed faster than Monza, as they are claiming. Seems difficult to believe.

    Impressive if it is, mind…

  21. I think a key point made by James Allen on his blog is that the modifications weren’t designed by Tilke.

    Hence why the circuit looks even better than before.

  22. I was also at Silverstone today for the launch – although time restrictions meant I couldn’t stay for the media stuff!

    Got some more pics here..

    Btw – Keith: did I hear correctly that the Santander 2-Seater actually blew it’s engine this afternoon?

    1. Was that the car Hill drove the Duke around in?

      I suppose you did not get to have a go on track on your bicycle as they advertized?

  23. will this version of silverstone be in the F12010 video game?

  24. All this lack of F1 racing this month, and with Silverstone coming up in 11 weeks……it’s just killing me over time. Nothing is working, reading books playing games, sports, walking the dog and still F1 is on my mind.

    I blame Keith for this……….(joke)

  25. it looks like the Club Silverstone seats will get a excellent view of the new arena circuit. At least it looks like this might be the case. Of course I’m curious because this is where I have seat for this upcoming race so very curious if this new layout gives me more of a spectacle to watch then what I thought when I booked the tickets (which was done before the info was available about the arena circuit).

    Also consider the layout of the arena I wouldn’t think we are in for a new Bahrain because it’s very few corners a lot of extra highspeed straights and if you can get it right I bet they could go flat out into the arena and overtake in the loop it looks to be wide enough so that a driver can take a alternative line to stay out of the immediate wake and thanks to the slight cornering the F-ducts might not be usable there.

    1. But will it be possible to follow a car in front through the fast section?

      I would really like to see a repeat of Petrov on Lewis tail for 2 straights here!
      The F-duct shoulb be usable, only we will be presented with 4-5 different interpretations of it by the time we get to Silverstone.

  26. Looks great hope we have a good racing there in July.

  27. Keith, I read on another site (that shall remain nameless) that they were moving the pits and start/finish line in time for 2011 to another location “in a completely different place”… Do we know where they’re moving them too?

    1. JSC, between club and abbey for next year

    2. I like the next entry and exit for the new pit area. Exit is very long however and consider how straight and fast the track look to be on the new start straight finish I would just hope that the pit speed limit zone stops soon after the boxes which would mean they can really race out of the pits. If that is the case the boggy time for a pitstop could be pretty short.

  28. Cool, I can’t wait…

  29. I quite like it, certainly better that anything Tilke could come up with.

    I do hope that they grow that grass properly, and paint the runoff green or something, otherwise the new section may look a tad dull.

  30. Is it not flawed logic to add tarmac runoff on a circuit designed for bikes though?

    As far as I know bikers generally prefer gravel, and as such most circuits motogp visit have predominantly gravel traps.

    I know if I had to slide across something at 150mph, I’d pick grass and gravel over asphalt anysay.

  31. they still can put gravel on the tarmac.

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