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Silverstone opens new 'Wing'

Chris Medland
May 17, 2011 « Sutil faces assault charge | »
The Wing will is 30% larger than the old pit building at Silverstone © Sutton Images
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The new paddock and pit lane facility known as 'The Wing' has been officially opened at Silverstone.

The building, costing £27 million, was opened by HRH the Duke of Kent in front of a large contingent of motor sport names past and present. At 16,500 sq ft the facility is significantly larger than its predecessor and will also see the start-finish line moved from between Woodcote and Copse to between Club and Abbey.

The development has helped to secure the long-term future of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone after the circuit signed a new deal to host the race for 17 years in late 2009. BRDC chairman Damon Hill has been actively pursuing improvements to the facilities since taking over the position in 2006, and said it had been crucial for Silverstone to match the standards set at new tracks such as Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.

"It's very important for everyone we've managed to do this," Hill said. "We've had people putting up palaces around the world, so it's fantastic we've got this facility now and it's kept Britain at the forefront of motor sport around the world."

On opening the new building, HRH the Duke of Kent said it would allow Silverstone to cement its place as one of the world's leading circuits.

"This is a tremendous day for Silverstone," the Duke said. "I am very confident the Silverstone Wing will not just become the recognisable face of Silverstone, and not just of motor sport in Britain, but the centre and pivotal point of world motor sport."

The Wing will bring income to the circuit all year round, being able to hold up to 4,000 people in conference and catering facilities, as well as being home to the new pit garages and pit lane. Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips also said 50,000 seats will have been relocated over the last 18 months as in order to provide a better spectator experience.

The 2010 British Grand Prix winner Mark Webber drove a Red Bull in to the auditorium during the opening ceremony, and said that the BRDC and organisers needed to take credit for providing the development and securing the race's future, as it had a significant history.

"What's important today is to remember that the politics that go on - particularly with Formula One - it's not easy to keep the venue and event here," Webber said. "Bernie [Ecclestone] is pretty tough at times so I think that's a real feather in the guys' caps that they've been able to keep the event here. It's been a very special track for me in the past, a lot of special memories … memories like Nige [Mansell] bringing [Ayrton] Senna back on the car when I was growing up, so it's brilliant."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was equally praising of The Wing, and said that it had raised the standards required to be a world-class Formula One complex.

"Silverstone is the natural home of grand prix racing in the UK,' Horner said. "I remember seeing some fantastic races whilst I was growing up watching Formula One. As a team principal with Red Bull we've been fortunate enough now to win the grand prix for the last two years, and we'd love to make it a hat-trick at the opening of this new facility.

Formula One visits some incredible facilities around the world and Silverstone has always stood out as a drivers circuit and I think that now with the complex and the facility that this new wing provides it really does set the benchmark among the grand prix circuits of having the combination absolutely right."

Chris Medland is an assistant editor on ESPNF1

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