Royal approval for Silverstone's £27m revamp

Click to follow
The Independent Online

She has been described, in none too kindly terms, as a dilapidated old broad in need of a lick of make-up, but yesterday Silverstone presented herself in all her glory as a host of suitors – five British champions among them – rushed to praise her latest makeover.

Even royalty was present, in the form of HRH the Duke of Kent – president-in-chief of the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), the track's owners – who officially opened the new £27m "wing" complex that was a crucial factor in the new 17-year British Grand Prix contract that the BRDC were able to secure late in 2009.

The distinctive structure comprises a bold new 16,500 square-metre pit and paddock complex at the exit to Club corner, 30 per cent bigger than its predecessor, which was between Woodcote and Copse.

"This is a tremendous day for Silverstone," the Duke said. "This place has a long and distinguished career going back 60 years and now will remain one of the most important circuits in the world thanks to the BRDC and their members. This new wing is central to the future of the circuit, and there is no question that that future looks very exciting. This country is a world leader in engineering, especially in Formula One, and we can justly feel very proud."

The investment safeguards the track's future while placing it on an even footing with much lauded government-funded facilities such as Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

The 2009 world champion Jenson Button said: "Abu Dhabi has great facilities and you had to say that Silverstone was a little bit tired and ready for some improvements. This makes it one of the best circuits in the world in terms of the track itself and its facilities."

Damon Hill, the BRDC president, said the new multi-use complex had secured the future of Britain's premier race. "There was a threat of it going elsewhere. Other places were putting up palaces, but now we have kept Silverstone at the forefront of the world."

The one notable absentee was Bernie Ecclestone, who has long disparaged the venue. "The pits and paddock complex is a state-of-the-art facility and will form the backbone of Silverstone's plans to become a world-class facility," he said in a message, in which he couldn't help but add: "It's a great shame it couldn't have been completed 10 years ago – but well done."