• British Grand Prix

Duke re-opens refurbished Silverstone circuit

ESPNF1 Staff
April 29, 2010 « Button admits he almost blew his career | »
Prince Andrew shares a joke with BRDC president Damon Hill as Sir Jackie Stewart looks on © Press Association

The Duke of York re-opened the Silverstone circuit which has undergone a £5 million refurbishment as a result of being given a ten-year deal to host the British Grand Prix.

"I am deeply honoured about being asked to be an honorary member of the British Racing Drivers' Club, although I have no qualifications," the Duke said, adding that he was there to support high-performance engineering which he described as being "vitally important for the British economy".

"Motorsport is right at the pinnacle of this industry, so it is through events like F1 and Superbikes that we can demonstrate our expertise. And I can say I hope the future will continue to be rosy, not just for motorsport in the UK, but also high performance engineering as a whole."

He was then taken for three laps round the track in a two-seater F1 car driven by BRDC president Damon Hill. "This is a very important day for Silverstone, but also UK motorsport," Hill said. "[The Silverstone] team have done a fantastic job under extremely difficult circumstances, not only acquiring the grand prix, but also bringing Moto GP and World Superbikes here."

The new layout includes new sections with names such as Village Corner, The Loop, Wellington Straight and Aintree. Hill said he was confident the additional corners would improve the spectacle.

"It's fast and flowing, it's got that trademark Silverstone high-speed characteristic," he said. "Especially what will be turn one, the Abbey right into Farm corner and a big stop into village, that should be good, that should be really good. I think it will set up possible overtaking situations."

With a new pit and paddock complex set to be introduced for 2011 the investment into the circuit has been extensive. But Hill insisted the circuit was operating within its means.

"I would say that there is a sense that things are coming together and going in the right direction," he added. "[Our budget is] not being stretched to the absolute limit but certainly its further than it has been stretched before. Certainly there was an understandable reluctance to take on too much risk. It's a balancing act, it's simply a matter of balancing the equation and it's a risk business being in event promotion."

Guests included local politicians and councillors, as well as Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, Sir Jackie Stewart and Mercedes CEO Nick Fry.