News emerged at British Grand Prix at Silverstone that last weekend’s MotoGP race will be the final one to use the old ‘National’ pits, with the championship instead returning to the Wing complex for 2023.
It will be the first time since 2012 that MotoGP will have run out of the pits built originally for Formula 1.
That 2012 race weekend was only the second time MotoGP ran from the then-new complex before returning to what had become the National set-up, as the logistics of using the new location initially proved just too much for a championship where the relationship with feeder series Moto2 and Moto3 is much closer than that between F1 and F2 and F3.
The Wing area contains only one third of the hard-standing space of the huge original complex, and it proved difficult to squeeze the 280-odd trucks that make up race support, hospitality, motorhomes, and office space for three classes, as well as event organiser Dorna, technical support teams, TV infrastructure and all other necessary components of the MotoGP circus, into it.
While those logistical problems haven’t necessarily gone away, Silverstone boss Stuart Pringle insisted that it’s a challenge worth taking on in order to drive MotoGP forward – a need that was brought into focus at Silverstone by lower than ever before ticket sales this year.
“I want to be very careful in the words that we use, because I don’t want to imply that it’s not good at the minute, but this is the past, at this end of the circuit, and the Wing is the current and the future,” said Pringle, speaking exclusively to The Race.
“And particularly with the arrival of the hotel and the bridge [opposite]: the Wing was always a striking building, but now it’s eye-catching.
“It’ll look big on TV, it’ll make the British Grand Prix look great, and with all those things operating, it’s just where this championship needs to be. I think we all need this championship to be a little bit more aspirational and a bit more forward-looking.”
It is likely to cause headaches for the International Race Teams’ Association, the group tasked with assembling the MotoGP paddock every weekend, but Pringle was adamant that, working in conjunction with them, the challenges can be overcome.
“I understand that operationally it might be a bit more difficult for IRTA,” he conceded, “but everyone in the paddock is paid to be there and to do a job of work.
“If it’s harder for those of us who have a job to do, that’s fine. But we have to ask what it does for the spectacle, and if the answer is that it’ll be better, then yeah [that’s worth it].
“That was the challenge we had last time and that hasn’t fundamentally changed. I’m not close enough to the planning and the detail of the IRTA operation, but I’d like to think that they’ll come at it with a fresh mind. They’re a can-do bunch.
“’Does everything need to happen like this or that, can we change that slightly or do we have to apply the template so rigidly?’ Frankly, they go to some pretty small circuits in other places, so it can’t be impossible. And the benefits outweigh the challenges.”
Those benefits come amid significant investment in the Wing by circuit owner the British Racing Drivers’ Club, now once again looking strong after years of teetering on the verge of severe financial problems.
With the BRDC investing millions in making the complex self-supporting on the power front (resolving another issue that previously resulted in a considerable number of generators being required to run it), it means that the time is right to really showcase both Silverstone and MotoGP to the best of their abilities.
“We’ve spent a lot of money on the Wing and we’re going to spend a lot more, including to put solar on the roof,” explained Pringle.
“It’s a building that we’ve always been pretty proud of but which we’re now really proud of. By the time the championship arrives [in 2023], it’ll be a self-contained zero-carbon building powering itself, which is a great story.
“I’m extraordinarily conscious that the fundamental of our business is cast in the burning of fossil fuels, which makes me feel a bit exposed – or it did a few years ago. That’s why I’m determined to be recognised as a progressive leader among circuits and promoters, and the BRDC have opened the chequebook to support me.”