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New Silverstone not quite the pits

Silverstone's new pit and paddock facility was well received on its F1 debut, but there were questions raised over the accompanying pit-lane.
The persistent wet weather that blighted the opening day of the 2011 British Grand Prix allowed greater focus to be cast upon the new surrounding that F1 found itself in at Silverstone.

A year ago, the UK round of the world championship took place on the new 'Arena' layout for the first time, but it would be another twelve months before the teams and drivers got the full experience of Silverstone's make-over, with the start-line moved to the straight following Club corner and now overshadowed by the 'Wing', the circuit's state-of-the-art pit, paddock and conference facility.

While it is widely accepted that the circuit, which staged the first world championship event in 1950, needed new facilities, not everything was to the F1 fraternity's liking, with questions raised over the length of the pit-lane and possible disadvantages for those at the wrong end of it, the view afforded to those in the grandstands opposite and, in the case of one Arena circuit novice, the circuit itself.

"We have learnt a bit about the pit-lane, tried out the new garage, but it has been a restrictive day in terms of what we managed to learn on track," Red Bull's Christian Horner admitted, revealing that his team had been confused about which garage it was expected to use, "I was quite surprised, as I thought we were going to be up this end of the pit-lane.

"There is some nice grass up here and so on, and all the garages are the same size at the end of the day. But we are down the other end, which probably isn't great for the spectators as they are not going to see many Red Bull or McLaren pit-stops this weekend, but there you go...."

Asked whether being at the far end of the pit-lane would be a disadvantage in mass stops, with a column of cars potentially coming past, he conceded that only experience would tell.

"I don't know, we will have to see," he admitted, "It's a short pit-lane here, which adds another element to the race. Obviously the entry is a bit tight, so that is going to be interesting for the drivers. It's a very fast run-in to the pit-lane and, obviously, if it is wet on the way out, we have seen a few cars down at our end of the pit-lane having a few moments on the way out. But I am sure it will be fine.

"If it's conditions like today, if the speed limit goes up to 100km/h, I think it could be a tricky down there. Yeah, it's part of the track and, at the end of the day, it's the same for all teams and all drivers, but I think they probably need to have a look at whether, because the pit-lane tapers as well, we remain with 100km/h or whether it would actually be better to look at a 60km/h speed limit. But you have to say, other than being the wrong end of the pit-lane, it is a great facility."

McLaren counterpart Martin Whitmarsh admitted that he shared concerns that the fans would not be able to witness the leading teams complete their stops, potentially a key part of the race, but also echoed the general air of praise for the new Wing facility.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
08.07.2011- Friday Practice 2, Nick Heidfeld (GER) Lotus Renault GP R31
The new Silverstone Wing pit, paddock and conference facility as viewed from the air   [pic credit: Silverstone Circuits]
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