The Evolution Of F1 Circuits

Silverstone – Great Britain

Silverstone – Great Britain

The first Grand Prix at Silverstone took place in 1948, but the course was a lot different than it is today. The course was previously used as an airbase and the original track used both runways left over from when it was converted. The circuit was altered a year later to use the airport’s perimeter roads as it was a much safer option, as previously drivers hurtled towards each other with only a blank canvas to protect them from over-shooting tight corners and colliding with oncoming cars.

In 1952 the Pit lane was relocated and then before the ’75 Grand Prix a new chicane was added to reduce speed into Woodcote corner and speed was further reduced with the implementation of the Bridge chicane giving Woodcote its original layout.

The early 90’s saw some of Silverstone’s most significant changes. Copse radius was increased, Maggots and Becketts were given esses, Vale was introduced in between Stowe and Club, an elevation adjustment beyond Abbey was implemented. The biggest change was in the final sector that saw a right turn at Bridge before introducing new corners Priory, Brooklands and Luffield.

Safety concerns grew for Silverstone after the deaths of Roland Ratzenburger and Ayrton Senna that led to corners being tightened at Stowe and Copse, which also had its run-off area increased. Abbey was given a chicane, Vale was straightened into a tighter Club left apex, Priory and Bridge were moved closer together with the Pit lane moved behind a safety wall.

In ’96, it was great to see a change that increased speed rather than reducing it, as Stowe was re-profiled to today’s configuration, giving the corner a fast sweep. This trend continued over the next few years with Copse, Priory, Brooklands and Luffield getting a redesign that resulted in a faster track. The Pit lane entry was also straightened during this period to minimize the time it took for drivers to get from the circuit to the Pits, and once the entry to the Pits had been altered, the track’s Pit exit was reduced, again to allow drivers to re-join the race quicker.

In 2010, a new infield “arena” was created in time for it to be unveiled at the 2011 British Grand Prix.Changes introduced new corners after Abbey, Farm, Village, The Loop and Aintree, which would all need to be taken before arriving back at Brooklands. And finally, in 2011, the start/finish straight was moved from between Woodcote and Copse to between Club and Abbey.

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