BRDC Chairman Damon hill has suggested that if Donington can not come up with the 100 million pounds needed for the planned track renovations; Silverstone may be an option again. This comes amid Bernie Ecclestone’s, the F1 commercial rights boss, criticism that the British Government will not step up and fund a Grand Prix on the island that gave birth to the series over 50 years ago.
The sticking point is the upgrades that Bernie demanded for Silverstone and while they have made some improvements, Bernie feels Britain should have a world class facility for F1. That is not out of the questions as you look across the Middle East and Asia where Bernie has convinced governments to spend millions on facilities for the intoxicating lure of an F1 race. But the British government is not unlike the American government with respects to paying for an F1 race. There are many other venues, racing series and opportunities that make the $500MM guaranteed backing for Bernie marginal at best.
While Damon Hill and I agree that a British Grand Prix should never be in doubt, as the home of F1, I do wonder if the British people are keen to allow Bernie to be the promoter of the event in return for his gracing the island with a race? What would be too much? Are the British people willing to make concessions and line Bernie’s pockets with tax revenue for the favor of an F1 race? As for us Americans; I can so that this would not be a very viable option. To Tony George’s credit, he played the role of a small government in backing the USGP but I am not aware of too many folks in the US that would take on that role.
If the economy is struggling worldwide, could Bernie not make some concessions? Has he? What 10-year deal with revenue sharing and promotion sharing could be arranged that would see the circuit recognize revenue to improve and yet retain the prestigious British Grand Prix. In the end, was Donington just a ploy as so many have suggested?