Damon Hill has criticised the new layout that will be used for this year's British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Hill, who is president of the British Racing Drivers' Club, which owns the Northamptonshire-based circuit, told British newspaper, The Daily Mail
, that the £5 million re-design is a 'frustrating compromise that risks destroying the essence of what brought fans to F1 in the first place'.
His comments follow the confirmation on Thursday that event will take place on the new 'Arena Grand Prix Circuit' in July after it got the okay from Formula One Management [see separate story - click here
“If you are asking me to say it's fantastic, I'm afraid I am not going to do that. I am not satisfied that we will be providing the best facility we could,” Hill told the tabloid 'paper.
“More money goes out of the sport than comes in. It means we have to be as tight as a duck's backside. We need every penny to survive. You end up having to do things you don't want to. It is very frustrating.”
While the majority of Silverstone's familiar straights and high-speed corners are retained in the Arena layout, the significant change takes the drivers right at Abbey - instead of the previous left towards Farm Straight, Bridge and Priory - and sends them in the direction of Becketts and into the new Arena complex, which has been designed with a view to creating three new overtaking opportunities. The revised circuit then links up with the old National Straight before rejoining the previous Grand Prix layout at 'Brooklands'.
“It is fast, exciting corners that drivers love,” Hill added. “It is what fans love. So, it's illogical not to concentrate on developing the sporting challenge. I have the idea of my perfect, fantasy track and that's not what we are building.”
Silverstone Circuits MD Richard Phillips meanwhile was more pragmatic and added that the new design, which was initially done for the arrival of MotoGP at the circuit, does have definite pluses.
"We have been very careful, working closely with drivers and riders, to make sure we are improving and enhancing what Silverstone already has to offer – from a drivers, riders and spectators point of view," he noted.
"Some will miss not seeing modern day F1 cars accelerating through Bridge, but we have to move with the times and continue looking at ways to improve the overall experience.
"The new layout will bring an extra dimension to Silverstone, a new challenge for the drivers, and will enable fans to get closer to the action. We have a very exciting year ahead of us, with F1, MotoGP and World Superbikes all coming to Silverstone, and I can't wait to see how the drivers and riders tackle the new circuit."