You take great risks when you tamper with a masterpiece – but that’s just what the British Grand Prix organisers had to do at Silverstone ahead of this year’s race.
The changes added a fast new corner to the track at Abbey and the new section of track was the scene of some exciting racing on Sunday. What did you think of the changes to Silverstone?
Abbey has been restored to its former glory. Once a flat-out kink, it was turned into a slow chicane following the tragedies of 1994. It’s now a high-speed flick right and left with a tricky bump which caught out several drivers during practice.
The circuit owners have successful incorporated one of the fastest new corners seen in F1 in years without compromising safety. Ample room for run-off allowed Sebastian Vettel to avoid what could have been a nasty accident when his front wing failed in Saturday practice.
The revised corners also appeared to increase the potential for overtaking. We saw passing moves at Village, The Loop and Brooklands during the race.
The new section of track has bypassed Bridge and Priory, two popular corners.
And the addition of two slow corners has, in the eyes of some drivers, disrupted the flow of the high-speed track.
Bumps on several parts of the track have also come in for criticism.
On the whole I think the changes are an improvement.
Several people are sad to see the loss of Bridge. I can understand that but, having watched a Grand Prix there a few years ago, I think what we have now is better. Since Abbey was slowed in 1994 Bridge had become little more than an acceleration zone that only really tested the drivers in the wet.
Abbey and Farm are two great corners – the best new stretch of tarmac laid for F1 since turn eight at Istanbul five years ago. Not just because it’s so quick, but because of that controversial bump.
F1 drivers are unusually sensitive about bumps. When David Coulthard raced at the Lausitzring in the DTM for the first time earlier this year he complained to the other drivers about how bad the bumps were. They laughed at him – the Lausitzring is the smoothest track they visit.
If you want to see what a bumpy circuit really looks like, watch these onboard laps of the Sao Paulo street course Indy Car visited earlier this year and wince.
There is a mindset in F1 that anything that gets in the way of setting up the cars to go as quickly as they can must be eradicated. Bumps are a frequent target because when they are removed, engineers can reduce ride heights, lap times fall and everyone in the pit lane feels like they’ve just made their cars faster.
(Indeed, some of the criticism can be explained away by it coming from the drivers of cars that performed particularly badly over the bumps.)
Bumps, ripples and undulations can turn good corners into great ones. During the race we saw mistakes by Adrian Sutil and Michael Schumacher over the Abbey bump create passing opportunities for Sebastian Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg.
No, we should not ignore concerns about safety or driver discomfort. But Abbey has a vast amount of run-off for drivers to bring cars under control. The bumps are part of the challenge and not only should they stay, they’re part of what makes Silverstone a cut above other tracks.
What do you think of the revised Silverstone? How does it compare to other tracks on the calendar since the changes?
Vote below and have your say in the comments.
What do you think of the new Silverstone?
- Much worse than the previous track (2%)
- Slightly worse than the previous track (4%)
- No better or worse than the previous track (14%)
- Slightly better than the previous track (52%)
- Much better than the previous track (28%)
Total Voters: 1,956
2010 British Grand Prix
Image (C) Force India F1 Team