During a visit to Silverstone today, the Minister of Sport, Gerry Sutcliffe MP, met the 1996 Formula 1 World Champion and current President of the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), Damon Hill, who briefed him on plans to redevelop the circuit...
During a visit to Silverstone today, the Minister of Sport, Gerry Sutcliffe MP, met the 1996 Formula 1 World Champion and current President of the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), Damon Hill, who briefed him on plans to redevelop the circuit and ensure the long-term security of the British Grand Prix.
The presentation was attended by a select number of guests which included heads of local County Councils, District Councils, planners, higher education authorities and Regional Development Agencies. The presentation was also supported by Richard Phillips, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, and Spencer Canning, Development Director, who were presenting on behalf of the BRDC.
Damon Hill opened the presentations by explaining the importance of the BRDC's Master Plan to not only the importance of Silverstone and its continued hosting of the British Grand Prix, but the development of motorsport in this country. "Next year will be the 60th year of motor racing at Silverstone. All that time the BRDC has nurtured Silverstone and maintained it as the world's leading motor sport and Grand Prix venue."
"It remains, with only a handful of other circuits such as Monza, Spa and Monaco, one of the rare originals on the Grand Prix calendar. Together with a highly professional commercial team on Silverstone Holdings Limited we are determined to continue that tradition."
Hill went on to say that "The stimulating effect of Silverstone on the motor sport, entertainment and manufacturing industries can not be underestimated. The effect of the British Grand Prix on inspiring the next generation of driving talent should not need emphasising."
"The Moss's, Stewarts, Mansells and Hamiltons of the future need a home grand prix to maximise that continued inspiration. Having won the British Grand Prix myself, I know how special it is for a driver to win their home Grand Prix. I fervently wish future British drivers will have the chance to experience that for themselves."
Gerry Sutcliffe was invited to contribute his views on the future developments saying, "We all want to see the British Grand Prix remain here at Silverstone, and I congratulate the BRDC on the work they have already done to make that happen. We have a real opportunity to make Silverstone a world-class sporting venue, providing future opportunities for education, skilled jobs and tourism. I offer my full support to the Master Plan and will work with my colleagues to help with its delivery."
Formulated by the BRDC's development director, Spencer Canning, and a property advisory committee of BRDC members, the Silverstone Master Plan has received the overwhelming approval of the club's members and was recently submitted for public consultation by the planning authorities at South Northamptonshire Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council, who govern the land on which Silverstone Circuit is based.
It is estimated that the club's Master Plan will allow up to six million square feet of new development over the next 10 years. It incorporates a range of mixed uses which include concepts for a business park, a manufacturer test centre, an extreme sport and leisure complex, two hotels with trackside suites, a university campus, a small amount of residential development and a 'Welcome Centre' that will incorporate a museum, and arena for a range exhibitions, corporate launches and open air events.
The plans also include major upgrades to Silverstone's pit and paddock facilities as well as new grandstands, which have been made part of the conditions that must be met if a new British Grand Prix contract is to be signed. In addition to developing and improving circuit facilities, the Silverstone Master Plan will enable Silverstone to realise its ambition of becoming more than a Grand Prix Circuit, and retain its position at the heart of motorsport valley.
The long term objective is to expand its function and relevance to motorsport, leading technologies, education and training and, finally, to ensure that the UK continues to be the global leader in these specialist areas.
Spencer Canning, said the club's plans went "far beyond the immediate requirements for retaining the British Grand Prix and would bring Silverstone into the 21st century. These ideas will not just bring Silverstone up to scratch, but create a unique community to ensure the global dominance for British motor sport at Silverstone."
Speaking about the significance of the British Grand Prix and the threat to the UK motor sport industry if it was lost, Richard Phillips said, "Governments around the world are recognising the importance of motor sport in their economic mix. Many have invested heavily in Grand Prix racing and many more have aspirations in that direction."
"I know from personal experience that these new circuits are being used as catalysts to attract high-tech businesses and, make no mistake about it, they are looking in our direction. The threat is very real and the loss of the British Grand Prix would be the tip of a slowly melting iceberg."