At the official launch of Silverstone's new grand prix circuit, the venue's relieved managing director Richard Phillips said that he believed that the track is now has the fastest average lap speed in the world. He explained why fans can expect a brand-new spectacle this July and how Silverstone is on track to deliver a new pit complex by 2011.
Q. The new version of Silverstone's Grand Prix track has been a long time coming, hasn't it?
Richard Phillips: Yes, it has been, I'm almost feeling tired with relief now. We have got to this point and the track is looking beautiful. We still have the grass to grow and there is stuff to finish off around the edges, but it has been received very well so we are very happy people indeed.
Q. When you say stuff around the edges, can you be more specific?
RP: We still have a lot of grandstands to put back in, but a lot have already gone back in. We've changed so many things to improve the viewing. We have brought the guardrail in, we have brought the debris fencing in as much as we can, so there is a lot. When you make changes on this sort of scale, a lot happens, we even took down all the telephone lines and a few other things and it takes a while for all that to go back in. We are having to work nights at the moment because we are so busy.
We are running night shifts and the next time we can actually get on the circuit to do any significant work during the day is the end of June.
Q. So, how long before the new pit complex is built?
RP: The pit wall is in already. The steel is coming on site in the next few days, and by this year's Formula 1 grand prix we hope to have that up. It's on plan at the moment for delivery around April/May next year but then it has got to be bedded in for the first race, which will be the F1 grand prix in 2011.
Q. So the new format will be online for the 2011 grand prix for sure?
RP: Well, we're on program for that at the moment. Everything is looking good for that. Contractually we don't have to be finished until 2012, but we would really like to get the job done now and move on.
Q. So, that will be the first race that runs with the new pit lane and start line?
RP: Yeah, it's going to be quite interesting. We are quite excited about it because we already have the existing pits and some of the racing will start on there and finish up on the existing pit straight and then we will have the F1 paddock down here at the new building, so we will have a start and finish down here. All operated from one race control. It going to be a very interesting time, but, of course, much more interesting for the public.
Q. You have the FIA GTs this weekend and some testing has taken place already, what has the feedback been like?
RP: The feedback has been reasonable so far. Some of the drivers picked up some undulations, but that has all been planed out and the tarmac replaced and so on. We want to perfect it and we have no resistance from our contractors; if we find bumps they come in overnight, plane them out and fix them. We have had to do it two or three times so far, so if it is not absolutely right now, it will be.
Q. The general feeling seems to be that it is going to be around 10sec longer per lap, is that correct?
RP: It's about half a mile longer, so it probably is about an extra 8-10 seconds, although it has the fastest average speed for bikes and cars in the world (not including speedways).
Q. So it will be faster than Monza now?
RP: That's what the simulations are telling us, but until we have actually held a race, we won't know for sure. Simulations are one thing, doing it for real is something else.