Brit GP: moving home

Bernie Ecclestone may be 77, but he remains a player in the shrewdest sense. In one swift, silent move this morning, he wrecked what should have been the best weekend in the British Racing Drivers’ Club social diary. And he did it on their turf.

That’s what the announcement about the Brit GP was all about. Forget all the talk concerning Silverstone to Donington in 2010 being because Silverstone is below par, or any of the criticisms that surface each year at this round of the World Championship.

Ecclestone will deny it, but this is personal. Bernie dislikes everything the BRDC stands for. And one of the club’s many faults is that they did not see this coming. Call it arrogance; call it stupidity; call it sticking their head in the sand by mentally barricading themselves inside their lavish club house: the move to Donington was always on the cards. Damon Hill, the BRDC president, at least showed pragmatism when he said last week that the chances of keeping the Grand Prix were 50/50. In fact, it turned out to be about 99/1 against.

As things stand, the move seems crazy as Ecclestone allows his feelings to jeopardise the British GP by taking it to a place that is not up to scratch. The investor in this move will need to knock down Donington’s facilities and start again.

The track itself needs lengthening and brought up to F1’s latest safety standards. The local infrastructure requires heavy revision to cope with the arrival of the F1 circus and at least 90,000 spectators (ask anyone trapped for hours at the recent MotoGP meeting).

Who is going to fork out the £100m to do the job over five years? And who will pay the £13m (plus a 5 per cent annual escalator) F1 needs in order to bring the show to Donington?

Not Tom Wheatcroft, the owner of Donington. Not Donington Ventures Leisure Limited, the circuit’s lease holder and operator. Apparently, there is a ‘private investor’ who is also a substantial share holder. Naturally, Donington do not wish to reveal the identity of this person.

I wouldn’t mind betting it is Ecclestone. This way, he ensures the circuit and its facilities are exactly as he wants them. He also becomes the promoter, which tidies up the problem of paying F1 for the privilege of coming.

I understand that plans have already been informally approved – but not passed – for a circuit extension. For a man worth at least £2.4bn, £100m is petty cash – particularly if he screws the BRDC in the process.

You could argue that, since Silverstone’s investment plan required £30m to be spent in order to keep Ecclestone and F1 on board, then the money may as well be spent by someone else at another venue.

There is also a view that Ecclestone has actually saved the BRDC from themselves because their master plan could have possibly taken Silverstone to the edge of bankruptcy. I am writing this in the media centre, overlooking the pit straight.

Silverstone looks in very fine order indeed. The drivers love the challenge, most of them citing the Maggotts/Becketts complex as one of the best in the world. The circuit has a wonderful history, superb atmosphere and this race marks the 60th anniversary of the first Grand Prix here. I have seen more than half of them and very much regret that it has come to this.

But it was inevitable – not necessarily for the best reasons.

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Absolutely incredulous – any who has attended the World Series by Renault event for the last two years (2007 Donington – 2008 Silverstone)will get a flavour of the respective traffic management systems of the two venues. It’s yet another example of Bernies undying respect for the BRDC. The sooner he goes the better – the replacement? A Mr Mugabe could be looking for a job soon – couldn’t be any less moderate could he!!!

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i think the move is great doning ton is a great track and doesn’t need oltering !! its a great trak and will be challenging for the drivers. donington has some great courners like the old airpin and the chicine!! I carn’t wate!!!!

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This is shamefull, Ecclestone needs to step down before he ruins F1 for the sake of his own sizable ego. Donington is NOT F1 standard and I cant see it outdoing Silverstone which has the history and prestige that has made it a motorsport favourite. This clearly has nothing to do with the facilities at Silverstone which are superb, this is personal, and it is Bernie’s hatred of the BRDC that has brought this about. The little fella’s reputation will be damaged by this.

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At last! BRDC have been brought down to earth.Ive been going to silverstone since the early eighties & have witnessed the contempt which the BRDC has held the paying public re the cost &facilities. More power to elbow Bernie! & bring on donnington.

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Hang on, draw up necessary plans with supporting evidence, submit planning application, wait then wait a bit more for the process to grind along. Carry out public consultation, handle explosion of objections to scheme, convince planners of scheme, then convince highways, County highways and Highways Agency, obtain planning permission, wait for high court challenge. Finally let contract to a firm of civils, wait for it to be delivered late and then hold event in 2010.

Don’t make me laugh!

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Great news for donnington well done bernie get your wallet out and sign that cheque. Donnington is a local circuit to me and great news for the region . When do the tickets go on sale!!!

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Poor donnington. I love the donnington layout, and to have it tikleised is a real shame :( Mind you, i find silverstone to be one very boring track, at least we will see that go.

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In my opinion its great, donington is a great track and is much better to be at than silverstone. silverstone is just flat and boring but donington has a brilliant track layout encorporating the natural landscape. I just hope they dont change the track to much and dont over develop because i live less than 2 miles from the circuit!!!

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Well, planning permission is already in place (just a question of when) for a dual carriageway relief road around the back of Castle Donington to the circuit direct from the A50 (which links Donington direct to the M1 North within 4 miles – using 2 motorway junctions), not to mention the direct flow onto the A50 in the opposite direction to the M6 north. That will release the road to the south of the circuit for one way 2 lane access to M1 south (2 miles) or the A42/M42 link (2 miles) heading direct for M6/M40/M5 south.

The “collection of grand prix cars” dwarfs any other collection in the world, ever been there? There are 150 Grand Prix car including over 50 “modern” F1 cars. Its the largest collection of Grand Prix cars there is.

Silverstone is a flat, featureless, concrete filled, zero character place with a couple of nice corners and some hideous sections.

My worry is that Donington will become a hilly, concrete filled, slower, Tilke-ised (pardon my language, isnt Tilke german for s**t) depressing place – so I prefer F1 to stay at Silverstone thank you.

I hadn’t thought of the £100mill being Ecclestones – interesting twist, I presumed it was the property developer who is the money behind the new Donington owners who is investing in getting the planning status of the land switched so that in a few years time once everyone (AGAIN) discovers that only FOM make money out of F1 – the circuit goes bankrupt and the “industrial land” it leaves behind is easily converted to housing once the market has picked back up – but what do I know.

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Yay,elevation changes!

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What’s all this “at least Britain retains an F1 GP” all about, especially from Bernie. Isn’t it Bernie that makes that decision anyway? BTW invisiblekid, there’s 3 N’s in Donington, not 1. ;-)

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A belated reply to MEDI, you’re right silverstone is in central England, which would be ideal if it was the English GP, but i’m afraid it’s the British Grand Prix.

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Donington hasn’t got a hope of holding the British GP in 2010. Even if they moved the diggers in tomorrow there is no way all the work involved in building a new track lay out and pits complex and stands.

Look how long it takes to build a football stadium or skyscraper or anything else large for that matter. You can guarantee there will be clauses in Bernie’s contract with Donington. If it isn’t ready in time it won’t hold the event. Look what happened at Brands Hatch when it was awarded the British GP.

This will go one of two ways. The 2010 British GP will either be at Silverstone because Donington isn’t ready or there WON’T be a British GP which is really what Bernie wants because foreign countries have to pay a heck of a lot more for the right to stage races.

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No other Grand Prix can match the drama and excitement of Silverstone and niether will Donnington.

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How the hell do you people think that you will get to donnington? when the roads get blocked up with traffic for moto gp or british touring cars.
I remember a couple of years ago going to doinngton to see the touring cars and we had to wait for about 2 hours in choco-blok teaffic.
seriously how are they going to get at least 90,000 fans their?

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R.I.P silverstone

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Firstly, I am a great Donnington fan as it was the first circuit I went to as a kid. However, last time I went (for a Renault World Series day last year) It took as hours of cueing in the car to get in and hours to get out. Compare this to yesterday at Silverstone, a total of ten minutes cueing (on the way in and the way out).

There just isn’t the road infrastructure to support large numbers at Donnington and with the gurrent (& probably futire) government’s attitude to road building (esp. in the loverly rural environment around Donnigton) I can’t see this changing.

Come on Bernie, put childish feelings aside and leave us our Grand Proix where it should be…..

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I dont want the GP to go to Donington because it will kill the circuit IMO, but:

a) Read my comments above about access roads. Donington’s access is limited by roads within 2 miles of the circuit, over 2 miles its much better than Silverstone.

b) Donington’s current MotoGP pit complex took 4 months to build 2 years ago and that included the demolition of the old buildings. The new pit complex will be a new build I imagine – so 4 months is an over winter job.

c) For drama and excitement watch the Euro GP from 1993 at Donington.

d) Silverstone used to share the race with Brands Hatch which was a much better arena for F1 than a dis-used airfield. Donington is also the historical home of Grand Prix car races in the UK – ask Mercedes Benz and Audi (Auto Union).

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To all you guy’s who are moaning about the race being moved from Silverstone, you need to get over your selves and stop being so British in the way you treat tradition! Donnington is twice the circuit silverstone is Whether you be a Driver, a spectator or if you happen to be watching on the telly! I know it doesn’t have the facilities as of yet, but when it does finally get the facilities it will blow silverstone at the water as a venue!

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Out of the two I have only been to silverstone but my favourite circuit by far has got to be Brands Hatch. Even for the smallest race meetings there is still a great atmosphere and the circuit has real character in the way it undulates and the challenge it poses for drivers. It’s also the nearest premier race track to London with it being near the m25 and not too far from Gatwick. I just came from the British Grand Prix this weekend (that day will probably stay with me for the rest of my life)so I’m happy as long as the Britain continues to hold a Grand Prix, but personnally, and I don’t think i’m the only one, but I would love to see the Grand Prix back at Brands Hatch.

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I’m mad that America doesn’t have a GP, but it’s not surprising, because the rest of my country has become a bunch backwater inbred who think the only kind of racing involves left hand turns. But this is insane! Maybe I’m missing something, but how in the name of god are they going to get Donington up and running in less than two years? I imagine that getting Silverstone up to snuff would be far easier than Donington would be.

But not only that, there is a substantially amount of history that would be lost by leaving Silverstone. Yes, Ayrton Senna had one of the most incredible races ever at Donington, but does that mean that hardly gives it more historical relevance then the track where this sport started.

I hope that the boys on Top Gear start a campaign to save Silverstone, or at least send The Stig out to Bernie’s house. Lord knows what horror that being would bring upon Mr. Ecclestone.

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“…the track where this sport started…”

The sport is circuit Motor Racing which started in the UK at Brooklands (oval) and Donington Park (road circuit). Formula One as a championship started at Silverstone in 1950 but the first British Grand Prix was at Donington Park in the 1930’s.

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