The Silverstone is the current home of the British GP, which it first hosted in 1948. The 1950 British GP at Silverstone was the first race in the newly-created F1 World Championship. The race turns around among Silverstone, Aintree and Brands Hatch from 1955 to 1986, but relocated permanently to Silverstone in 1987.
On 30 September 2004 British Racing Drivers’ Club president Jackie Stewart announced that the British Grand Prix would not be included on the 2005 provisional race calendar, and if it were, would probably not occur at Silverstone. However on 9 December an agreement was reached with Formula One rights holder Bernie Ecclestone ensuring that the track would host the British Grand Prix until 2009 after which Donington Park would become the new host of the British Grand Prix. However, the Donington Park leaseholders suffered economic problems resulting in the BRDC signing a 17 year deal with Bernie Ecclestone to hold the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Damon Hill was apart from an impressive driving career that included winning the 1996 world championship with Williams – is one of F1 greatest tracks – “We had to fight a big battle to make the future of Formula One sustainable here,” he said. “It’s been a long saga. But now we have a track to be proud of and we have done a great deal to improve the spectator experience in many areas.” Damon Hill said to guardian.co.uk
New pit and paddock area – the Wing – is phase two of an inspiring change of the old airfield in Northamptonshire, which first hosted the British Grand Prix in 1948. The £27m pit area has facilities for conferences and banquets as well as 41 garages. It is on the inside of the new pit straight, between Club and the new-look Abbey.
“I feel proud of what we’ve achieved here,” Hill says. “Hopefully it’s not too different from what we’ve had before. The layout is much the same as we had last year. But there will be a different spectator experience, with some places offering a view of two thirds of the track. It’s always been an exciting and challenging circuit for the drivers.
“Pictures of the new facility will be beamed all round the world. I think it’s symbolic of the success that Britain has enjoyed in motorsport over the years. I think there will be a special atmosphere next weekend. It’s people who make a difference and now they have a fantastic facility to enjoy.”
Appearing at the fresh facility today it seems exactly inconceivable that Silverstone’s future was in serious doubt only two years ago, when Donnington won the rights to stage one of the showpiece occasions on the domestic sporting calendar. But then the Donnington project suffered financial problems and Silverstone saved the day and itself, signing a deal that will see the British Grand Prix held there for the next two decades.
Work started on the latest Silverstone development in April 2010 and it was opened in May, with the former British F1 champions Jackie Stewart, John Surtees, Nigel Mansell and Jenson Button joining Hill, along with the team principals Christian Horner (Red Bull) and Ross Brawn (Mercedes). There was also an appearance from the motorcycling star Valentino Rossi.
Hill, the son of the double world champion Graham, will be seeing a lot more of his family in the future, including his son Oliver, who was born with Down’s syndrome – after which Damon and his wife Georgie became patrons of the Down’s Syndrome Association.
Hill will also have the chance to reignite his musical career. He was still at school when he and some friends formed the punk band Sex, Hitler and the Hormones. He associated with a number of more famous musicians, including the late George Harrison. “I’ve also got an interest in sport that goes beyond Formula One, including football, so I won’t be short of things to do,” he says.
The circuit managing director Richard Phillips said the multimillion pound development will have the ability to support itself in the years ahead. “The Silverstone Wing plays a big part in our business diversification plan,” he said at the opening. “The facility has been designed in such a way that it has the ability to earn its keep.
“In addition to being used to run motor sport events from, the Wing has the flexibility to accommodate conferences, exhibitions, product launches and experiential events.”