Damon Hill: "New-look Silverstone track will thrill F1 fans"

Legendary racing driver, Damon Hill, has said a new-look track will make this weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone a thrilling race for both fans and drivers, and predicted a close battle between Brits Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

Speaking at Silverstone yesterday, where the world's Formula 1 teams are currently setting up, the 1996 world champion said Silverstone's new layout would create an exciting contest between the two British championship contenders.

Discussing changes to the track in the past year, he added: "I've just driven it and there are some lovely new corners. It's going to be pretty exciting. It's retained the high speed nature of Silverstone and there are some really great new places to watch from - you can tell that even when you're driving around."

The track was originally altered slightly for the Moto GP bike race, but Formula 1 officials have also decided to use the new circuit layout on Sunday.

Silverstone's managing director, Richard Phillips, said the changes were just the beginning of a series of upgrades over the coming years which he believed would see Silverstone become the best racing track in the world.

He said: "We're at the beginning of a long road now. By next year, we'll have spent 36 million of 37 million on improvements, which is a lot of money for an independent circuit.

"But we can't stop there, we want to create more jobs in high performance engineering and education. So we've started to improve, but we've got to carry on.

"We intend to be the best in the world. We'll never compare with the amount of money being put into places like Abu Dhabi, but we've got a better circuit than them, better crowds and a better atmosphere. So we'll always have something these new, emerging circuits will never have."

The next major landmark in Silverstone's expansion will be the opening of the new Formula 1 pit complex in May next year.

Mr Phillips described the building as an "incredibly impressive" structure, adding: "We intend to have that ready for next year's grand prix and that's quite an iconic beast of a building."

A small number of tickets are still available for Sunday's race by calling 0844 3750740.