Silverstone focused on long-term MotoGP future amid F1 doubt
Silverstone says it is focused on securing its place as the long-term home of MotoGP in the United Kingdom amid the uncertainty of its future as the host of Formula 1 British Grand Prix.
This year's F1 race at the track is the last one under the current deal, while its MotoGP contract has been recently extended to 2021.
This extension came after the track committed to another resurfacing in the wake of the cancellation of the 2018 MotoGP race at the venue, which had been forced by heavy rain and concerns over the track's ability to drain water.
“We will end up with a track that keeps all of the great traditional characteristics of Silverstone - fast, high-speed, flowing, great overtaking, great drafting - but with much better drainage, state-of-the-art asphalt, fantastic grip and super smooth, zero bumps - as close to zero bumps as you get,” the track's managing director Stuart Pringle told Motorsport.com during the MotoGP weekend in Barcelona.
“And bearing in mind that [circuit owner BRDC's] inclination is to do things for cars, not bikes, this is a massive investment, a seven-figure sum more than we paid on the previous job.
“We're still a business that's clawing itself back from a difficult financial position. With no certainty over the future of F1, we've done this to keep MotoGP.”
Pringle says Silverstone – which is aiming to make MotoGP a “rigid” part of its calendar by designating the August Bank Holiday weekend slot for it - took a different approach to resurfacing the circuit this time, contracting Tarmac to carry out the works but delegating the design to track specialist Jarno Zaffelli and his Dromo company.
Zaffelli designed an asphalt specification for Silverstone “mindful of our climate, the fact that we're a Formula 1 circuit, as well as MotoGP, but also a very busy circuit”, and Pringle is convinced this well help alleviate the issue of braking zone bumps that is often keenly felt by MotoGP riders on tracks the series shares with F1.
Pringle is also “completely confident” that the new surface will protect the track from a repeat of the 2018 debacle, having witnessed how the already-resurfaced parts of the circuit performed in draining water during severe rainfall earlier in June.
FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini is due to visit the track after this year's F1 race. Pringle feels Uncini “has taken a lot of comfort from the team that we've put together to deliver this”.
Asked for series promoter Dorna's position over the race's longer-term future, Pringle said: “Dorna are very happy with the job we do, they love the track, the riders love it, IRTA [teams' association] love the practicality of the space in the paddock and everything.
“I can see no reason, and Dorna have given me no reason to believe - in fact quite the contrary, they've given me cause for optimism that they too see MotoGP's future at Silverstone for the long term.”
While there is wide expectation that Silverstone will also sign a new contract with F1, there have been no updates since the circuit denied a report of a deal being agreed back in April.
“That is still the position - we are still talking,” Pringle said in Barcelona. “They [F1 owners Liberty Media] still want there to be a British Grand Prix, and we still want to run it. But it has to be on the right commercial terms for us to sign a contract.”
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