Martin Brundle has warned F1 fans not to expect Silverstone's newly-unveiled 'Arena Grand Prix' circuit to generate any extra overtaking in the British Grand Prix – even if he does predict that the layout will present drivers and riders alike with a genuine challenge.
With F1, MotoGP and World Superbikes all on its schedule this year – the motorsport equivalent of the 'holy trinity' – Silverstone's moniker as the self-styled 'Home of British Motor Racing' looks well-deserved, but staging the pinnacle of both two and four-wheeled action has entailed its own difficulties, namely achieving the delicate balancing-act of satisfying drivers and
riders at the same time. It is a task in which Brundle reckons the designers have by-and-large succeeded.
“Clearly, I would imagine that when this layout was designed it was when Silverstone did have MotoGP and didn't have F1,” the popular BBC F1
commentator told Crash.net Radio
, “and I don't think bike riders like sliding across big tarmac run-off areas – it wears holes in their leathers! I can't imagine why they enjoy bouncing through gravel traps either, though it seems they prefer that. I think [the Arena Grand Prix circuit] will work for both, though – and I think it will be good for the fans.
“Obviously Copse, Becketts, Stowe and Vale are all the same, they've tightened and re-profiled Club – but I think it will still be flat-out – and then where it all goes differently is that Abbey chicane is gone and there's a big right-hander there now, which I think looks as though it will be just about flat-out in top from the data I've been given by a Formula 1 team. That will be immense, and as challenging as Copse to get right. Then there's an easier flat-left I would imagine, before they've got two very tight corners – a right and a left – and then a sweeping left where they've really got to get it slowed down quickly.
“It takes the Formula 1 cars really in-board right into the centre of Silverstone; obviously, starting from the beginning you tend to race all the way around the outside of this facility, and now it takes it with a sort of arrowhead as we used to call it into the centre of the track, and that's good. I don't think in F1 that it will generate a lot of overtaking if I'm honest because there are hardly any braking zones any more, but I think at national level racing it will generate some excitement and it's good for the fans.”
The inauguration was attended by both the great and the good from the sport's illustrious past and present, as well as HRH The Duke of York, who officially opened the Arena Grand Prix circuit and was taken out for a ride around it for his troubles in a Santander-backed two-seater F1 car driven by 1996 world champion Damon Hill. Brundle acknowledges that it was an auspicious day indeed.
“I think it's a very important day,” underlined the former Benetton, McLaren, Ligier and Jordan star. “Silverstone of course has Formula 1, MotoGP and an immense amount of national and international racing, so when they're launching a new grand prix circuit it's big news. It's expensive and it's difficult to change sporting venues like this, so it's great and I was really pleased to see it all unfolding.
“It's good news for Silverstone, and I think it gives it a seal of approval that somebody of [Prince Andrew's] calibre wanted to come along and officially open it, so it's good. It will help to remind people that there will be a wonderful grand prix here this year and we've got [Jenson] Button and [Lewis] Hamilton and co. head-to-head and four world champions on the grid for F1 and we've got a great MotoGP round, so it just adds to the good news story that Andrew turned up.”
As to the chances of the cherry on top with either current world championship leader Button or McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Hamilton emerging victorious in front of their adoring partisan supporters on home turf this summer, Brundle admitted that only a fool would write the pair off – but as to the overall destiny of the drivers' crown, he insisted it is far, far too early yet to make any accurate forecasts, so open and unpredictable has F1 2010 proven to be to-date.
“I'd say there's a very good chance,” the 50-year-old mused of the likelihood of a 'home' triumph in the 2010 British Grand Prix, “because Jenson and Lewis are both on great form and they appear to have a car that's moving forwards up the grid. Jenson has won two of the four races as we're standing here, so I would think the bookies will not be giving you too good odds on that happening.
“There's a long way to go yet [in the title chase], though, and a lot of points to be won. It has been all over the place so far; [Felipe] Massa was leading it, Jenson's back in charge now... There's so far to go yet that you couldn't even begin to think about the championship.”
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