Silverstone has officially launched the new Arena circuit that will play host to the British Grand Prix from 2010.
The new layout, which will also host the British round of MotoGP, was officially unveiled by the Duke of York ahead of the FIA GT1 World Championship event at the Northamptonshire circuit this weekend.
The revised layout features a number of new corners and increases the length of a lap to 3.66 miles, with the opening of the new section of circuit being the first step in a two-year development plan which will also see a new pit and paddock complex created between Club and Abbey.
Following the changes, drivers will now leave the 'old' GP circuit at Abbey to enter a new section of circuit that leads up the top of the National Straight before rejoining the existing circuit at Brooklands.
Work on the circuit has been completed in just five months after the debacle at Donington Park saw the British GP return to Silverstone and has cost £5 million.
“This is a very proud day for Silverstone Circuit and the BRDC,” BRDC chairman Damon Hil said. “The new section of track and improvements made elsewhere to the circuit are fantastic. These changes provide not only a stunning new driving challenge but will also lead to an enhanced spectator experience and provide great flexibility in terms of the different layouts that we can now use.
“Thanks and praise for the impressively quick construction work must go to the Silverstone management, led by Neil England and Richard Phillips, and the whole team involved. I would also like to thank His Royal Highness the Duke of York for taking the time to visit us today in his role as UK Special Representative for International Trade and Investment. His presence underlines the scale of the UK motor racing industry and its importance to the economy.
“Silverstone is a cornerstone of the success of the industry and the BRDC will continue to develop the circuit to ensure that Britain has a world class home for motor sport and related technology.”
During the launch of the circuit, the Duke of York was named as an honorary BRDC member and he admitted that the changes to the venue were good for the UK motorsport industry as a whole.
“I am very pleased to accept the honorary membership from the BRDC, but perhaps not qualified to do so,” he said. “I am here because high performance engineering is a major contributor to the United Kingdom economy and that engineering prowess is regularly on display in the highest level of motor sport that takes place at Silverstone.
"I am delighted to be here. The future, I hope, continues to be rosy, not only for Silverstone and motor sport, but for the UK's high performance engineering sector.”