Silverstone opened up the new Arena Circuit last weekend to fans who wanted to cycle it. This was free to people attending the racing there this weekend, but as I couldn’t attend due to other commitments (work and a carboot lol) I went with a group of mates and paid a fiver for the privilege.
We arrived to a dark cloudy sky and a brisk wind – it wouldn’t be a trip to Silverstone without a strong (freezing) wind!
There was quite a lot of people arriving at the same time as us and unloading bikes, I was quite surprised!
In fact two of our group arrived a bit later and initially were turned away as the people on the gate had run out of tickets!
The only bad bit was having to park in the main carparks – I was hoping we could park in the middle, but no we had two bridges to go up and down on the start and finish of the bike ride!
We got onto the track just in front of the BRDC building at Luffield. I was left by the others as I wanted to take some pictures of the run off for my boss who is involved with Formula Student and is currently trying to work out which part of the circuit will now be suitable.
After doing that and pumping up my front tyre I eventually got on my way.
Although Luffield and Woodcote haven’t changed, the run off has and there is now a big tyre wall between the complex and the pit lane entry. Instead of tarmac, grass or stones, the run off in between the two corners was thick sticky looking mud! If that’s the same for the GP then there really won’t be anyone getting out if they loose the car here!
Again the pit straight itself hasn’t changed but the wall to the left as well as the main grandstand has been taken down and moved considerably further back, with a lot more run off area. This seems so strange to me and the only benefit I can think of is not for the racing at all! I do Race for Life every year at Silverstone with thousands of other ladies and a wider pit straight will make the warm up a lot easier!
The first section of track seemed unchanged to me with the first noticeable changes near to Maggots and Becketts. The inside fencing now had a brand new bit of track on the other side.
There was new curbs at Vale which are massive and not likely to go down well with the F1 teams. The entry to Club had been slightly changed, but it was after Club that I really started to notice the difference.
The straight between Club and Abbey is going to be the pit straight next year and the pit wall is already in place, with the beginnings of building work behind for the pit lane and paddock.
At Abbey we turned right instead of the left I am used to and entered the new Arena track!
It seems like it will be very quick with flowing corners that I doubt F1 cars will need to even lift for. Then a slow corner creates a large braking zone presumably intended to generate overtaking before going onto the National Straight and rejoining the old circuit at Brooklands.
It looks fantastic, almost like a new circuit with the fresh tamac, new run off areas and clean barriers. The rest of the circuit has been spruced up but without losing it’s charm, which was very important for me to see. I was worried Silverstone would loose it’s identity but it hasn’t 🙂
The track being open didn’t require any extra staff as there were plenty of people about sorting the place out after the weekends racing, so to me it seems like a great idea. It felt a bit like being in Tesco in the middle of the night with the staff restocking!
It seems a good idea to raise revenue for the circuit although I wouldn’t want to pay £5 every week to do it, I bet if there was some kind of discount scheme for regular cyclists, Silverstone would open itself up to a whole new audience.