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Last Updated: Friday, 10 December, 2004, 13:19 GMT
Silverstone eyes track redesign
By Andrew Fraser

An aerial view of Silverstone
Silverstone's current lay-out leaves plenty of land unused
Silverstone's owners are considering making fundamental changes to the track lay-out after securing the future of the British Grand Prix until 2009.

British Racing Drivers' Club chief executive Alex Hooton told BBC Sport plans to modernise the site and make it more profitable would be stepped up.

"It might include a change of the lay-out of the track," said Hooton.

"We've got to be very careful because we don't want to lose the individuality of Silverstone as a very fast circuit."

Although the circuit has been modified several times, it follows the same basic rectangular shape as it did when it staged the first-ever Formula One Grand Prix in 1950.

We have to create the correct masterplan for Silverstone
BRDC chief executive
Alex Hooton

Changing its lay-out could free up additional space and allow the BRDC to generate more revenue from the 800-acre site.

A number of European circuits have been criticised, however, for being too similar and not testing drivers enough.

"The one thing the BRDC would not want is to reduce Silverstone to some sort of standard European-type track," said Hooton.

"We have to look at Silverstone as a complete whole and create the correct masterplan for it."

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone finally agreed a five-year contract with the BRDC for the British Grand Prix on Thursday after a protracted dispute over the terms of the deal.

The BRDC is reported to be paying 7m to stage the race in 2005.

Ecclestone has made it clear, though, that the contract will not be renewed in 2009 unless major changes to Silverstone are carried out.

The BRDC has made building a new pit, paddock and media complex a priority, along with better spectator facilities, a hotel and a motorsport "centre of excellence" which could include a university.

"We are at a very preliminary stage but it's obviously going to cost 10s of millions of pounds," said Hooton.

"We are talking to a wide range of companies that are looking to invest and assist us in developing real estate."

The East Midlands Development Agency has offered incentives to the BRDC as part of its plan to develop a state-of-the-art business park at Silverstone.

Part of that could be a university which would teach motorsport-related and engineering skills.

"We know we've got five years to sort this place out and we are now in a position to move ahead and have serious discussions with various parties," said Hooton.

"Now the uncertainly over the Grand Prix has gone it's really our responsibility to seize this opportunity and explore every avenue as quickly as we can."

Interview: Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone

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