New Silverstone won't be any better for passing Overtaking will be no easier on the new Silverstone circuit than it was on the previous layout, several drivers have warned.
The historic Northamptonshire track has undergone a major revamp since Formula 1 last raced in Britain a year ago, with a completely new middle section adding half a mile to the lap distance.
The changes were initially conceived with MotoGP in mind following Silverstone’s temporary loss of the F1 contract, but organisers predicted they would add at least two new overtaking opportunities on a circuit whose flowing high-speed nature makes passing difficult for aerodynamically sensitive grand prix cars.
According to the drivers this is unlikely, however.
“I don’t think there will be any ore overtaking than there was in the past,” said Mark Webber.
“It was always a difficult track to overtake on, and I think that will still be the case – but that’s the same for most circuits around the world.”
Fernando Alonso concurred: “I think overtaking will be difficult, but no more difficult than it was in the past.”
World champion Jenson Button is slightly more optimistic that the slow corners at Village and the Loop will present chances to outbrake rivals.
“Hopefully it will help with some overtaking,” he said.
“This is a pretty tough track to overtake on, and with a couple of slow corners it might change that.”
Webber, Alonso, Button and Lewis Hamilton gave the new design an initial thumbs-up, agreeing that Silverstone had done a good job of adapting the circuit while preserving its best features.
“I think when they designed it they weren’t planning to have a Formula 1 race here – they were looking very aggressively at making it more [suited to] the bikes,” noted Webber.
“It was a bonus that they got the cars back, which I think we’re all very happy about.
“The work that the BRDC, Damon [Hill] and everyone has done has been incredible.
“They kept all of the good stuff, the sections of the circuit that the drivers like.
“Yes, Bridge and some of the other corners were still nice, but you can’t have everything when you have other world-class categories like MotoGP coming here.
“So they’ve made an adjustment and I think it will be good for both categories.”
Button reckons the new corners only increase the technical demands of the circuit.
“It does take away from the flow of the old circuit, but it’s interesting to have some slow corners in there where you need mechanical grip,” he said.
“The downforce level we run could also be different, and it will work the tyres differently as well.”
Hamilton, who took an emphatic home victory in the rain-soaked 2008 British GP, admitted it had taken him a while to get used to the new layout, but believes it will get spectators closer to the action.
“I think it’s positive and I hope that we’re able to put on an even better show than we have in the past,” he said. “It should be good for the fans.”