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Silverstone Arena layout officially unveiled 29 Apr 2010

An aerial view of the new Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit layout. Silverstone Arena Grand Prix Circuit Launch, Silverstone, England, 29 April 2010. An aerial view of the new Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit layout. Silverstone Arena Grand Prix Circuit Launch, Silverstone, England, 29 April 2010. Damon Hill (GBR) BRDC President and Richard Phillips (GBR) Silverstone Circuits Limited Managing Director. Silverstone Circuit announce a 17 year agreement to host the British Grand Prix. 7 December 2009. Grovenor House Hotel, London, UK.

Silverstone officially opened its new Arena track layout on Thursday. Owners claim the revised circuit, which hosts the British Grand Prix in July, will improve the venue for F1 spectators, as well as maintaining a huge challenge for cars and drivers.

The new infield layout juts right at the reworked Abbey bend before heading into the new Arena complex of turns. This takes drivers on to the main straight of Silverstone’s National circuit, before rejoining the previous Grand Prix layout at Brooklands.

“This is a very proud day for Silverstone,” said Damon Hill, President of owners the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC). “The new section of track and improvements made elsewhere to the circuit are fantastic. The changes provide not only a stunning new driving challenge but will also lead to an enhanced spectator experience and provide great flexibility in terms of the different layouts we can use."

Guest of honour at the opening was HRH the Duke of York, who was also treated to a lap of the circuit with Hill in a two-seater Grand Prix car, and offered an honorary membership of the BRDC.

“I am very pleased to accept," said his Royal Highness, "but perhaps not qualified to do so. I am here because high performance engineering is a major contributor to the United Kingdom economy and that engineering prowess is regularly on display in the highest level of motor sport that takes place at Silverstone."

The work on Silverstone’s revised layout, which raises lap distance by 0.8km to 5.9km, comes after the BRDC signed a new deal last December to continue hosting the British Grand Prix for the next 17 years. The venue staged the very first world championship round back in 1950.

More than £5 million has been invested in the new circuit, which will remain among the fastest on the F1 calendar, with its projected lap time only increased by around four seconds. And away from the track, the Northamptonshire venue is making a number of improvements to its spectator viewing areas. In addition to constructing elevated viewing banks, existing grandstands and fence lines are being moved to bring fans closer to the on-track action.

This year's British Grand Prix takes place on July 09-11.