Hill: No choice but to upgrade Silverstone

BRDC President Damon Hill has said his organization had no choice but to upgrade the Silverstone track to bring it into the 21st century.

The revised circuit was opened last week and played host to a GT1 meeting yesterday, at which the new layout received mixed reviews. But Hill was adamant that the BRDC had made the right decision.

“It’s a necessary risk,” he is quoted by Autosport as saying. “The alternative was very possibly that the British Grand Prix would have gone off the calendar.

“There is a justification to demand first-class facilities if you have a first-class event like Formula 1, and others like MotoGP, but it has to make financial sense.

“We have been through one experience with Donington Park and it could be quite feasible that if the wrong financial decisions were made that you would end up with no British GP.”

Funding concerns had previously hindered plans to develop the track, but once the BRDC gained a minimum lease for the British Grand Prix, development could begin. Hill acknowledged the financial gamble the BRDC was effectively taking.

“[We are] certainly stretching [the budget] further than it has been stretched before. There was an understandable reluctance to take on too much risk, but event promotion and venue operating is a risk business.

“I’ve made my points clear I think over a number of times that I think that there is a case for some venues, particularly historical venues that have provided a really unique challenge in terms of the challenge to the sport, to be given a deal that given them a chance to develop.”

The 1996 F1 world champion also paid tribute to the British motorsport tradition.

“It is all full steam ahead, there is no way back from here. And we’ve been lucky and we are really relying a little on this country’s tradition of producing world-class drivers who potentially drive people through the gate.

“We’ve had them on a consistent basis since before the last war, and the whole time grand prix racing has been in existence, but there was a lull between Hunt and Mansell but we are trusting that we will continue to be at the front of the sport.”