RACING stars past, present and future were at Silverstone circuit for the unveiling of its new multi-million pound pit and paddock complex.
The state-of-the-art ‘Silverstone Wing’, which cost more than £27 million to build, was officially opened by the Duke of Kent, president in chief of circuit owners, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), yesterday, at a launch attended by a host of stars from the worlds of Formula 1, MotoGP and World Superbikes, who all showed their support for the circuit and its latest addition.
Richard Phillips, managing director of Silverstone Circuits, hailed the opening of the Wing as an important stepping stone in the planned redevelopment of the circuit.
He said: “Building on last year’s successful grand prix track upgrade, the Wing is another great milestone in Silverstone’s history and we must recognise and thank the BRDC for having the insight and vision to invest in the future of the venue as we continue to expand and diversify the business. This building will not only be a wonderful base for our major race meetings, but has the flexibility to accommodate conferences, exhibitions, launches, banqueting functions and experiential events.
“Silverstone is now one of the best motor sport facilities in the world and British motor sport has an iconic home that we can all be proud of,” he added.
BRDC president Damon Hill said: “It’s very important for everyone we have managed to do this. Around the world they are putting up palaces to host the grand prix. This facility was looking a bit backwards in comparison.
“This is a fantastic building with a lot of different uses that will be used throughout the year. It’s maintained the grand prix and kept Britain at the forefront of motorsport.”
At 390 metres long and 30 metres at its highest point, the Silverstone Wing includes 41 garages, three large halls, a conference facility and business centre, an auditorium, hospitality and VIP spectator zones.
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, famously critical of Silverstone and its facilities in the past, was unable to attend the opening ceremony, but sent a message in support.
In it he said: “The new pit and paddock complex is a state-of-the-art facility and will form the backbone of Silverstone’s plans to be a world-class facility of its type. I am delighted with the progress and prospects for the future of Silverstone.”
“It is a great shame it could not have been completed 10 years ago,” he added. “But well done Silverstone.”
FIVE Formula 1 world champions were among the high-profile motorsport guests who praised the new ‘Silverstone Wing’ at its launch yesterday.
Jenson Button, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Sir Jackie Stewart and John Surtees were joined at the opening of the new pit and paddock complex by other past and present motorsport great, including Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Frank Williams and Mark Webber, plus motorcycle stars Valentino Rossi, Randy Mamola, Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland.
Mr Button said: “I’m really pleased with what I’ve seen. They’ve done a fabulous job.
“This is what was needed, and it’s certainly going to help with the show for this year’s British Grand Prix. For me this takes it up to being the best circuit in the world in terms of the race circuit itself and the facilities. The whole of the UK, and whoever is a fan of motor racing, should be very proud of this place.”
Mr Mansell said: “Silverstone for me is the best circuit in the world by a mile. The BRDC and the board have done a fantastic job. Silverstone is where it needs to be now.”
Former motorcycle racer Mr Mamola said: “When I was racing this was one of my favourite places. The Wing has really created something very, very special to go along with a special circuit.”
F1 team boss Christian Horner said: “Silverstone has always been a great drivers’ circuit and now the facilities the new wing provides means it really does set the benchmark among grand prix circuits for having the combination of both.”
BBC commentator and ex-driver, Martin Brundle, said: “This is a magnificent race track. Now we have this magnificent building. It is a landmark building and it’s with great pride I’m standing here looking at it.”
Former commentator Murray Walker said: “I first came to Silverstone in 1948 and did my first broadcast here in 1949 at the British Grand Prix so I have seen all the developments. I never ever thought I would live to see something like the Silverstone Wing here. It’s a fantastic complex.
“It’s as good as anything in the world and is going to make an enormous difference to the enjoyment of the spectators, as well as the teams and officials.”