Crash.Net F1 News
Silverstone officially opens new Wing
17 May 2011
Silverstone's new state-of-the-art pit, paddock and Ccnference complex, officially christened The Silverstone Wing, was formally opened by His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, in a ceremony at the circuit on Tuesday.
The Duke, who is also president-in-chief of circuit owner the British Racing Drivers' Club, was joined by more than 800 guests, including the great and good of British motorsport, local dignitaries, motorsport governing bodies, BRDC members and media.
The new building, which represents the second stage of a multi-million pound investment in the self-styled 'Home of British Motor Racing', includes 41 garages, a race control building, podium and media centre, as well as hospitality and VIP spectator zones.
With three large halls, a conference facility, business centre and a 100-seat auditorium, the Silverstone Wing has also been designed to accommodate conferences, product launches and experiential events, and will be the largest covered exhibition space between London and Birmingham.
For Richard Phillips, managing director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, the launch represented an important stepping stone in the redevelopment of the venue.
“Building on last year's successful Grand Prix track upgrade, The Wing is another great milestone in Silverstone's history and we must recognise and thank the BRDC for having the insight and vision to invest in to the future of the venue as we continue to expand and diversify the business," he noted, "This building will not only be a wonderful base for our major race meetings, but has the flexibility to accommodate conferences, exhibitions, launches, banqueting functions and experiential events.
“Silverstone is now one of the best motorsport facilities in the world, and British motorsport has an iconic home that we can all be proud of.”
The official opening ceremony took guests on an evocative journey through the history of Silverstone, including appearances by many of the biggest names in the history of British motorsport. Five of Britain's six living F1 world champions – John Surtees, Sir Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Jenson Button – were in attendance, along with fellow grand prix luminaries Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Frank Williams, Christian Horner, Ross Brawn, David Coulthard and Murray Walker.
The worlds of MotoGP and World Superbikes, both of which race at the circuit, were also represented at the launch, with a host of Britain's best riders - including Cal Crutchlow, Jonathan Rea and James Toseland - showing their support for the stunning new facility.
The 'show' element of the ceremony culminated with a focus on the present and future of Silverstone, which was represented by three current greats of world motor sport. Button was joined on stage by nine-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, before 2010 British Grand Prix winner Mark Webber brought things to a close by driving his Red Bull Racing car into The Wing and came to a stop in the middle of the room.
All of the drivers and riders paid tribute to the impressive new facility, which will host its first major motorsport event, the FIA GT1 World Championship, over 3-5 June. This will be quickly followed by three of Silverstone's biggest events of the year; the AirAsia British Grand Prix for MotoGP over 10-12 June, the Santander British F1 Grand Prix over 8-10 July and the British round of the FIM Superbike World Championship over 29-31 July.
“Today was a very important day in the history of the British Racing Drivers' Club and Silverstone Circuit,” Hill commented, “The official opening of the Silverstone Wing represents the culmination of many years hard work and gives a clear statement of intent for the future. We are honoured that our president-in-chief, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent generously agreed to perform the opening ceremony.
“Over the last 60 years, under the stewardship of the BRDC, Silverstone has grown beyond all recognition. Silverstone has a significant historical legacy, but we maintain our place at the forefront of contemporary international motorsport, hosting an array of world class events and activities. This is in no small measure because British competitors have consistently led the way at the highest level of global motor sport for over eighty years.
“The BRDC is extremely proud of this new building, but we acknowledge that none of it would have been possible without our superb and exceptional Silverstone team. Silverstone is a cornerstone of our industry and the BRDC will continue to develop the circuit to ensure that Britain has a world class home for motorsport and related technology.”
Ironically, perhaps, the man who has long railed against Silverstone's antiquatyed facilities was unable to be present for the opening, but sent his congratulations - along with a typical barbed comment - on the milestone.
“I am very sorry that I am unable to be with you on this important occasion for F1 and the future of Silverstone, but rest assured I have followed all the progress from planning through to the current launch of the Silverstone Wing," Bernie Ecclestone said in a statement sent prior to the event.
"The new pit and paddock complex is a state-of-the-art facility and will form the backbone of Silverstone's plans to be a world class facility of its type. I am delighted with the progress and prospects for the future of Silverstone. It is a great shame that it could not have been completed ten years ago, but well done Silverstone.”