The Legend of the Silverstone Racing Circuit Part 2
Posted On January 30, 2020
The impressive start that the track saw was
an uncanny bit of luck. As the motorsport progressed, so did the track. Formula
One was gradually transforming from a bunch of motorsport enthusiasts with big
brands behind them, to a competition between car brands. Having an F1 team was
seen as desirable and prestigious. Brands like Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz
and Renault have bred their racing pedigree in F1. Racing cars became increasingly
precise, complex, and, most of all, fast. This increased the rate of accidents
and the dangerousness of the Grand Prix tracks.
Silverstone Racing Circuit was no exception, and throughout its history has seen many revisions, most of which were aimed at reducing the maximum speed the F1 pilots could reach. The first most notable one was in 1975, where a chicane was added to the Woodcote corner. Even by looking at the layout of the track, one can see the potential for entering the corner at a high speed. The temptation to step on the break as lightly as possible was very real for many racing drivers. To make matters worse, all you needed is to add water. Wet weather conditions, which is one of the trademark conditions of the British Isles, meant that one wrong move could spell disaster for even the most experienced pilots. The use of slick tyres in F1 meant that, in the wet, there will be a layer of water between the rubber and the track. Multiple vehicles aquaplaning is fun to watch, but it doesn’t help the sport. That additional chicane made slowing down compulsory, regardless of the weather.
But that wasn’t enough. A larger chicane was added to section of the track that appears earlier that the Woodcote corner, the Bridge. The Bridge chicane replaced the one at Woodcote corner, and it was more effective at speed reduction. Yet, the technology of the F1 racing cars continued to turn this motorsport into a science, where the winners of the races were increasingly determined by split seconds. The early 1990’s have been marked by the deaths of many F1 legends, including Senna. In 1991 Silverstone has seen another major redesign, and was subject to changes almost every year during the decade. Changes now carried different purposes, including accommodating the new requirements for pit stop infrastructure that F1 now needed, as well as adding a section for motorbikes in 2003, which only lasted until the redesign in 2010. The last redesign to date happened in 2011, and bears little resemblance to the circuit of 1948, as only a couple of straight sections of the track have survived unchanged. With the rising skill and advancing technology in F1, so did Silverstone evolve to remain a challenge, a circuit to be reckoned with. The richness of its history brings it to the forefront, eclipsing even the most advanced, purpose-built tracks of Italy and France. Silverstone is still filled with drama and crowds waiting for it, despite the rain and gridlock on the roads on racing day.