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Silverstone's multipurpose Wing building, for which construction was completed in May 2011, extends the venue’s offering, way beyond just staging motorsport events

by Rachel Evans

 

Silverstone has had to up its game in order to secure a 17-year contract for the Formula 1 Grand Prix; the new £30 million Silverstone Wing, which includes a new pit and paddock facility, was part of the masterplan.

It is hoped the Wing will contribute to the success of the circuit not only in motorsport, but by branching out into other areas of business, too. Richard Phillips, managing director at Silverstone, says, “Silverstone is the only Grand Prix circuit in the world that stands on its own two feet and makes a profit. The reason it does that is because it has diversified what it does as a business. Not only does it participate in core motorsport, it also does a lot of track days, consultancy, and we work overseas, and so on. The Wing is a phenomenal building, extremely large and multi-purpose.”

The building can be used in a range of ways for different events, exhibitions, and conferences. Daniel Whittemore, sales manager at Silverstone, clarifies this: “We are looking to firmly establish ourselves as a premier conference and exhibitions venue in Northamptonshire and beyond. We hold meetings here, also product launches, and various experiential activities, as well as training events. So, yes, we are coming from the motorsport heritage, but a lot of our customers are using the venue for its other advantages such as the easy access, the central location, the size and flexibility of the Wing, and the ancillary support facilities.”

The Silverstone Wing will also be used for educational purposes. The circuit is already home to the National College for Motorsport, but plans include further construction of a vocational school, which will take approximately 300-400 students from the ages of 14-16 years. Pupils will be able to complete vocational skills courses as part of their GCSEs in courses such as motorsport, engineering, and events management.

In 2011, Silverstone contracted the biggest planning application in the UK – in the region of a billion square feet – consisting of many different aspects. Whittemore says, “There is a masterplan of approximately 20 years. The changes that we will see include a visitor center; a museum; an archive; three hotels each with 450 bedrooms; piazzas; a ‘motor city’ dealership area for super cars, where visitors can test the vehicles round the track; and an international karting circuit so we can really focus on the grass roots of motorsport.”

Construction took just one year from April 2010 to May 2011, and also included a redesign of the track and relocation of the start and finish lines, relocation of 40,000 seats, and an increase in seating capacity. Grandstands were moved from redundant locations by AB Tribunes and placed into popular areas for fans to gain a better view. Whittemore explains, “The concentration is now around Club corner, the International Pits Straight, and Abbey, which is the new first corner for which cars don’t have to brake.” Further plans saw two more new grandstands put into place in time for the 2012 F1 race in early July, at the Luffield complex and on National Pits Straight, providing seating for an additional 3,500 guests.

On an international level, Whittemore believes Silverstone can now compete with the best: “In the UK there isn’t another circuit that has a facility like this, in its sheer size alone. Internationally, I think we can really hold our own now and put on an excellent show.”

What's in a wing?

The Wing can be used in a range of ways. Rooms are customizable to individual needs and can be used for smaller meetings with as few as six people, while the large multipurpose halls can accommodate up to 420 people.

There are rooms within the venue that offer sound proofing and all are fully equipped with state-of-the-art technical and AV equipment. The prestigious Brooklands Executive Suite overlooks the F1 circuit.

Silverstone also offers its services in organizing, planning, and executing an event if the customer wishes, and there are in-house catering facilities available. Rooms include a conference hall, an auditorium, two exhibition halls, a banqueting hall, and additional breakout rooms. Hall one and hall two are each 13,000ft2 and can hold 600+ delegates. Hall three is used as the main hospitality area all year round; with an open floor space of 13,200ft2 holding 650+ people, this hall has panoramic views over the F1 circuit.

Other suggested uses for the facility include launch events, lectures and presentations, training events, team-building exercises, meetings, exhibitions, weddings, banquets and conferences, film, TV and photo shoots, auctions and sales, fashion shows, and film screenings.

 

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