News and views on motorsports

Monday, December 13, 2004

Silverstone Moving Along

Silverstone has been saved. God bless Silverstone. Both the British and the French Grand Prix are in the FIA's Formula 1 calendar for next year. The British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) has agreed a new 5 year deal with Greedy Bernie Ecclestone.

The BRDC also announced plan for major developments within the Silverstone circuit that include an innovation park for motor racing activities and a state of the art wind tunnel complex. Excellent stuff that will be backed up by the East Midlands Development Agency. Read about this here and here. Moreover, there will be a revamp on the Silverstone track layout. (See here) Alex Hooton, CEO of the BRDC insists that "the one thing the BRDC would not want is to reduce Silverstone to some sort of standard European-type track" and "we don't want to lose the individuality of Silverstone as a very fast circuit." Huzzah! That's what the fans want to hear. I surely hope this means that the moron Hermann Tilke will not be involved. Stories in previous months even suggested Our Nige lending a hand in the redesign. If left to Tilke, then I'm sure he'd want his blasted hairpins and drag strip long straights. I'm quite sure he'd want to top off his 200 degree Sepang Turn 1 and 270 degree Shanghai Turn 1 with something even more ridiculous. I wouldn't put it past this idiot to suggest a 360 degree turn or something. Silverstone according to Hooton will retains its rectangular shape. These guys may not please businessmen like Bernie but they sure know how to give fans much needed on track action. And why shouldn't they? Its the fans that pay for the sport in the long run.

This is great news for the 6 teams based in England. I'm pretty sure even Minardi would want to consider a move to Silverstone now especially with that new wind tunnel complex in development. More importantly is the speculation that Mike Gascoyne will want to persuade his Japanese bosses at Toyota to move their base from Cologne to the Northants circuit. As I have said many times before (see here and here), the Cologne base is a complete mistake by previous Toyota boss Ove Andersson, thinking that Formula 1 operations are comparable to rallying and sports cars.

Now here is a chance for Toyota to do it right. I'm not sure how they can abandon their hundreds of millions worth of investment in their current facilities. However, given manpower and personnel recruitement problems, they'll definitely need to do it and soon. Germans make damn fine engines but not racing chassis. Remember the Zakspeed team of the 80s or the Porsche Indycar effort? Absolutely atrocious. Making state of the art racing chassis is the premise of the British. Discounting Ferrari of course but look closely and you'll find that their team is very much an international one these days. Renault may be French but they're based in Enstone. Sauber, pfft. They're not going anywhere based in Hinwil. Unless of course, like this year, Ferrari hands over old chassis designs to them. I know this is denied but surely this year's Sauber looks like last year's Ferrari. No?

I'm glad to see Silverstone back on the map. I'm also thrilled to see that plans are in place to make sure that the British motor racing industry remains at the bleeding edge of development. This should ensure that specialists like Cosworth will continue to be a going concern in the long run. This should dispel thoughts of teams being based in silly places like the Middle East. Unless you're Dubai F1 of course in which case you'd need lots of luck.

PS/ 3 years. 5 tops. That's how long Dubai F1 will last.

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