As soon as it was announced last year that the British Grand Prix would be hosted by Donington Park, the rumour mill has been in full swing and it seems that some of the prophecies put forward by the skeptics may be turning out to be correct. Issues of funding, management and planning permission have dogged the advancement of the redevelopment plan at Donington, and now there are new issues plaguing the potential new hosts for Britain’s involvement in the Formula One World Championship.
Currently, the circuit is owned by the Wheatcroft family and Donington Ventures Leisure Limited lease the track for motor sporting activities as well as music festivals and other outdoor events. The Wheatcroft’s, who own and operate the company Wheatcroft & Sons Ltd, have commenced legal proceedings against Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd because of arrears in rent, reportedly amounting to £2.47m. If DVLL cannot afford the rent, WSL may evict the resident company whom the contract for the 2010 British Grand Prix is with.
Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd owe us nearly £2.5m in rent dating back to September 2008. Despite receiving numerous reassurances over a number of months they have consistently failed to meet their financial obligations under the terms of the lease.
We have held off taking legal action for as long as possible but have been left with no choice but to commence proceedings to recover the outstanding rent and forfeit the lease. Kevin Wheatcroft.
At the 2008 British Grand Prix, held at Northamptonshire’s Silverstone circuit, Bernie Ecclestone allowed the FIA to announce the change in venue from 2010 onwards, the Donington Park track having been awarded a ten year deal to host motor racing event. At the time, Ecclestone made it clear that Formula One would not return to Silverstone, owned by the BRDC, an organisation Bernie doesn’t get on too well with. If Donington failed to complete their redevelopment works on time, there would be no British Grand Prix. Ecclestone reiterated this while visiting the Bahrain Grand Prix.
If Donington can’t put on the British Grand Prix then that’s it. We will be leaving Britain. There is no question of us going back to Silverstone. They have had enough chances and have not delivered what they promised. Bernie Ecclestone.
It is at this point that the British Government were asked to step in and help, the campaign being voiced by Formula One commercial rights owner Bernie Ecclestone. Having completed deals all over the world for the sport, Bernie has seen what can be done with government funding, the race in Bahrain this weekend being a great example of top-notch facilities all funded by the country itself. Abu Dhabi, which looks to be an absolutely stunning arena for motor sport and business, is also funded by the government, and Ecclestone believes the United Kingdom should follow suit.
It’s a disgrace that the British government don’t step in to help. They are throwing billions at the London Olympics. They could do what is needed to save the race by putting in a fraction of it – 0.002 per cent. Bernie Ecclestone.
Damon Hill, the 1996 Formula One World Champion and now president of Silverstone’s owning organisation the BRDC, has tried to keep the door open to Ecclestone and Formula One, and has apparently maintained communication with the Macronym title=”Formula One Management”>FOM director. Hill would obviously want the race to return to Silverstone, and speaking live on the BBC during today’s qualifying session, Eddie Jordan believes Ecclestone’s firm stance on the issue of not returning is actually his way of saying it will happen.
Confused yet? Well, Jordan believes that Bernie’s negotiation tactic is hard and almost reverse of he publicly says. But on the face of it at the moment, the fate of the British Grand Prix doesn’t look healthy. The House of Lords debated the issue yesterday and Labour deputy chief whip Lord Davies stated that their would be no direct financial hand-outs. Lord Davies emphasised that the government would do what it could, but there would not be any financial aid.
We do not want a state-sponsored motor industry, but the government can give necessary assistance and support in judicious ways, particularly by emphasising how important the industry is to the development of our society and economy.
The government will continue to give the support that we have done in the past. We see our role as facilitating and encouraging the Motor Sports Association and the owners of Donington to be proactive about attracting money from various funding arrangements to guarantee the finances they need.
However, should anything go wrong on that front, it is important that Silverstone is available to resume its position, because the essential thing is that we must not lose a British Grand Prix. Lord Davies.
Lord Davies may want to run that last sentence by Ecclestone before believing his own words.
It would be a tremendous shame for Britain to lose the British Grand Prix, and drivers up and down the Bahrain pitlane today have expressed a desire for the event to remain. Even non-British drivers like Rubens Barrichello who essentially cut his teeth in lower formulae around many of the UK’s racing tracks spoke of a desire for the race to remain.
It is also a great shame that the country is willing to pour so much many into hosting the Olympic Games, but is unwilling to spend (by comparison) a little amount on ensuring the UK remains on the Formula One calendar.
Perhaps using tax payers money on sporting events is incorrect, to which you would have to include the Olympic Games, but surely in a crisis, the government should be there to prop up the affected industry/business/event and offer a helping hand.
Of course, life and politics doesn’t work like that and the UK will applaud the efforts of the government at funding the organisations that will bring the Olympic Games to London in 2012, over budget and probably behind schedule. The British Grand Prix, by then, could be but a distant memory. Just as long as Team Great Britain can host the Games then all is okay with this county’s involvement in international sporting events.