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The Silverstone Circuit is a motor racing circuit in Northamptonshiremarker and Buckinghamshire, Englandmarker, named after the villagemarker in the former. It is best known as the home of the British Grand Prixmarker, which it first hosted in 1948 and which has been held on the circuit every year since 1987. The circuit is also home to the BRDC International Trophy, formerly one of the premier non-Championship F1 races in the calendar, today awarded to the winner of a race for historic F1 cars at the annual Silverstone Classic meeting.

Circuit development

Half the circuit is in Northamptonshiremarker and half in Buckinghamshire, roughly equidistant from Milton Keynesmarker and Northamptonmarker. It is built on the site of a World War II bomber base, RAF Silverstonemarker, which opened in 1943. The airfield's three runways, in classic WWII triangle format, lie within the outline of the present track.

Silverstone was first used for motorsport by an ad hoc group of friends who set up an impromptu race in September 1947. One of their number, Maurice Geoghegan, lived in nearby Silverstone village and was aware that the airfield was deserted. He and eleven other drivers raced over a two mile circuit, during the course of which Geoghegan himself was unfortunate enough to run over an errant sheep that had wandered onto the airfield. Both car and sheep were written off, and in the aftermath of this event the informal race became known as the Mutton Grand Prix.

The next year the Royal Automobile Clubmarker took a lease on the airfield and set out a more formal racing circuit. Their first two races were held on the runways themselves, with long straights separated by tight hairpin corners, the track demarcated by hay bales. However, for the 1949 International Trophy meeting, it was decided to switch to the perimeter track. This arrangement was used for the 1950 and 1951 Grands Prix. In 1952 the start line was moved from the Farm Straight to the present Finish Straight, and this layout remained largely unaltered for the following 35 years. For the 1975 meeting a chicane was introduced to try and tame speeds through the mighty Woodcote Corner, and Bridge Corner was subtly rerouted in 1987 before the track underwent a major redesign between the 1990 and 1991 races. The reshaped track's first F1 race was perhaps the most memorable of recent years, with Nigel Mansell coming home first in front of his home crowd. On his victory lap back to the pits Mansell even found time to pick up stranded rival Ayrton Senna and give him a lift on his side-pod, after Senna's McLarenmarker had expired towards the end of the race.

Following the deaths of Senna and fellow Grand Prix driver Roland Ratzenberger at Imolamarker in 1994, many Grand Prix circuits were modifed in order to reduce speed and increase driver safety. As a consequence of this the entry from Hangar Straight into Stowe Corner was modified in 1995 so as to make its entry less dangerous and, as a result, less challenging, and the flat-out Abbey kink was modified to a chicane in just 19 days before the 1994 GP.

Spectator traffic management

Historically Silverstone has suffered traffic jams on race days. This problem has been largely eliminated with the completion of the A43 Silverstone bypass, a dual-carriageway road just to the north of the circuit. When the race was moved to an April date in 2000, rainy conditions turned the fields used for car parking into mud baths, causing chaos for spectators trying to park. On F1 race day a large number of spectators travel to the circuit by helicopter: enough to make Silverstone Heliportmarker the busiest airport in the UK for this day.

Hosting Grand Prix and Formula One

Silverstone is the current home of the British Grand Prixmarker, which it first hosted in 1948. The 1950 British Grand Prix at Silverstone was the first race in the newly-created Formula One World Championship. The race rotated between Silverstone, Aintreemarker and Brands Hatchmarker from 1955 to 1986, but relocated permanently to Silverstone in 1987.

On 30 September 2004 British Racing Drivers' Club president Jackie Stewart announced that the British Grand Prix would not be included on the 2005 provisional race calendar, and if it were, would probably not occur at Silverstone. However on 9 December an agreement was reached with Formula One rights holder Bernie Ecclestone ensuring that the track would host the British Grand Prix until 2009 after which Donington Parkmarker will become the new host of the British Grand Prixmarker.


Bernie Ecclestone has stated that he will only negotiate the future of Formula One at Silverstone post-2009 if the BRDC gives up its role as promoter of the event. In an Autosport interview he said "I want to deal with a promoter rather than the BRDC. It is too difficult with the BRDC because you get no guarantees with them. We've said that unless they can get the circuit to the level expected from so-called third-world countries we are not prepared to do a deal. They know what we want them to build." A new pit-and-paddock complex is the minimum redevelopment required. Maurice Hamilton has described the attitude of the BRDC as "[appearing to be] inflexible and sometimes arrogant". During testing ahead of the British Grand Prix, Damon Hill likened the relationship between the BRDC and governing body as that of Aladdin's Cave: "The genie says give me the lamp and Aladdin says get me out of the cave and I’ll give you the lamp. You’re in this constant cycle whereby in order to get our plans implemented we need to have a Grand Prix contract, and in order to get the Grand Prix contract we have to have our planning."

On 1 August 2007 it was announced that a £25m redevelopment of the circuit had been approved, with new grandstands, pit facilities and a development centre planned . However, on 4 July 2008 it was announced that the event will move to Donington Parkmarker from 2010 .

On 12 January 2009 is was announced that Silverstone will host the British MotoGP from 2010 after signing a five year deal to hold this event.

On 18 February 2009, the first pictures of the MotoGP Layout emerged. The track will be slightly longer than the Grand Prix circuit, as it uses parts of the three main configurations at Silverstone – the Grand Prix circuit from the start-finish to Abbey corner, then turns right to go up part of the International layout in reverse, before joining the National Circuit's straight from a left-hand hairpin known as the Arrowhead. Having negotiated the straight, the bikes will rejoin the Grand Prix circuit at Brooklands.

On 20 June 2009 Bernie Ecclestone stated that there would be a British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2010 if Donington was not ready to host it. When asked why he had moved from his previous "Donington or nothing" standpoint he cited changes in the structure of the BRDC meaning there was a better way of negotiating with them over future commercial rights. Furthermore during an interview with the BBC about the Formula One Teams Association threatening to break away and form their own series, FIA president Max Mosley said it was "highly likely" the 2010 British Grand Prix would return to Silverstone. On 24 October 2009, BBC News reported that Donnington had failed to raise the £135 million needed to stage a British Grand Prix and that Donnington's bid 'looks over' and the F1 supremo has offered the race to Silverstone, but the terms appear to be the same as those that the Circuit rejected first time round.

Other competitions

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship withdrew the track from its calendar in 2007, however demand from teams and sponsors saw the return of Silverstone to the 2008 BTCC calendar. Silverstone also hosts rounds of the FIA GT, British Superbikes, British F3, British GT and Le Mans Series championships as well as many club racing series. It is also host to the UK's only 24-hour car race, the Britcar 24, which is gaining in popularity, having first started in 2005.

It has in the past hosted exhibition rounds of the D1 Grand Prix both in and . The course, starting from the main straight used in club races, makes use of both Brooklands and Luffield corners to form an S-bend – a requirement in drifting – and is regarded by its judge, Keiichi Tsuchiya, as one of the most technical drifting courses of all.. The section, used in drifting events since 2002, is currently used to host a European Drift Championship round. The Course also hosts the Formula Student Competition by the iMeche yearly.


To make room on Donington Park's calendar for the 'switch' of the British Grand prix, it was announced in early 2009 that in return, Silverstone would get the option to host MotoGP in 2010 onwards. Just after the 2009 British Grand prix on the 21st June, tickets became available on the official Silverstone website for MotoGP in 2010.

As well as this, it became apparent that the track would be remodeled in places to make it 'the fastest Bike track in the world'. Changes include alterations to the entry and exit of the Becketts/Chapel complex, and re-surfacing of Hangar-Straight. However the biggest changes are that when approaching the Abbey Chicane, drivers will turn right, and head down towards a hairpin at the new 'Arena' section, before joining the long National Circuit straight. The bikes will then rejoin at Brooklands, just before Woodcote and the Finishing straight. The new 'Arena' will consist of three new grandstands.

It is thought that the Arena grandstands will actually be relocated from Stowe Corner.

It has also been rumored that the Hangar Straight grandstand will be moved next to the National Straight for the new event.

Circuit maps

Image:Silverstone_circuitmap_1950-51.jpg|1950 to 1951Image:Silverstone 1952.jpg|1952 to 1973: following the relocation of the pits area.Image:Silverstone 1975.jpg|1975 to 1986: with the Woodcote Chicane in place to reduce speeds through Woodcote Corner.Image:Silverstone 1987.jpg| 1987 to 1990: with the Bridge Chicane in place to reduce speeds through Woodcote Corner.Image:Silverstone 1991.jpg|1991 to 1993: Redesigned, incorporating the new Becketts, Vale, Priory and Luffield corner complexes.Image:Silverstone 1994.jpg|1994 and 1995: with the addition of the Abbey Chicane.Image:Silverstone 1996.jpg|1996: with minor adjustments to the Stowe and Club corners.Image:Silverstone 1997.jpg|1997 to 1999: with further changes to the Vale complex.Image:Silverstone 2000.jpg|2000 to date: with the reprofiled Luffield complex reduced to one corner.

Appearances in video games

Simulation / Video Game Year Configuration
1950 1952 1975 1987 1991 GP National International 1994 1996 1997 2000 South
F1 2009 2009
Forza Motorsport 3
NFS Shift
Supercar Challenge
Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli 2008
Forza Motorsport 2 2007
F1 Championship Edition
TOCA Race Driver 3 2006
rFactor as Northamptonshire 2005
Forza Motorsport
NASCAR Racing 2003 Season 2003
Grand Prix 4 2002
Grand Prix Challenge
Grand Prix 3 1999
Grand Prix Legends 1998
TOCA 2 Touring Cars 1998
TOCA Touring Car Championship 1997
Grand Prix 2 1996
Formula One Grand Prix / World Circuit 1992
Michael Andretti's World GP 1990
Grand Prix Circuit 1988
Revs 1984
Chequered Flag 1983

  • The circuit has featured in all modern Formula One simulators such as Formula One Grand Prix and more recent official F1 games.
  • Silverstone is currently only European circuit included in iRacing Motorsport Simulations. The track has been recreated in the service basing on high resolution 3d laser scan data.


  1. Silverstone warned over washout (BBC)
  2. Guardian Silverstone track guide
  3. British GP set for axe
  4. Silverstone seals British GP deal
  5. Silverstone warned by Ecclestone
  6. JDM Option Volume 29 - 2006 D1GP Silverstone UK

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