The Silverstone Grand Prix circuit has agreed a 17-year deal, securing the future of the British Grand Prix.
The financial problems that the Donington Grand Prix circuit experienced left the future of the British Grand Prix in serious doubt, making the new agreement fantastic news for the UK motorsport industry and Formula One as a whole. Silverstone is one of the classic circuits on the F1 calendar and many fans and insiders were left worried that the Grand Prix circus would no longer be visiting not only a classic F1 circuit, but the UK as a whole.
The news was welcomed by 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton as well as this years champion Jenson Button, with both British drivers happy that they are still able to drive on home soil. With back to back British champions it seemed like a lost opportunity for F1 to no longer stage a race in the UK. This long-term agreement means British fans can rest assured that the sport will continue to visit the UK for many years to come.
The changes that have been agreed in order for Silverstone to host the race for the next 17 years are widespread, and do not end with the construction of a new pit complex.
The circuit is to also see a dramatic change for the first time since the safety-related changes that were made in 1994 as a result of the tragic deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger earlier in the year. These changes will see a dramatic re-profiling of the circuit from the Abbey chicane to the pit straight. This re-profiling will create a viewing area that will be more spectator-friendly for not only F1, but the Moto GP that has moved home from the Donington circuit to Silverstone.
BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle was quick to react to the news and said, “It’s brilliant news. I always assumed it would happen in the end because everyone wanted the same thing. The new circuits are exciting and interesting but they always had to balance up with the historic circuits, like Silverstone.”
The new circuit is due to be used for the 2010 Grand Prix, however this is based upon approval by the FIA. If the new layout does not get approval in time then the 2009 layout will be operated.