Simon Gillett has again responded to critics who are still refusing to treat seriously Donington Park's preparations to host the British Grand Prix from next year – telling them that 'it's time they stop knocking and start believing'.
The Leicestershire circuit was awarded the rights to hold the blue riband
event on the British motorsport calendar by Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Bernie Ecclestone last July, in a ten-year deal beginning in 2010. The move will see the race depart from its traditional home of Silverstone, which has welcomed F1 on no fewer than 42 occasions since the official inception of the world championship back in 1950.
There has been, however, persistent doubt and cynicism over the venue's ability to welcome the top flight, having only done so once before, when it hosted the rain-lashed 1993 European Grand Prix, so famously dominated by the late, great three-time world champion Ayrton Senna.
Detractors have pointed to the track's inadequate infrastructure and poor access, and the limited timeframe in which to undertake a £100 million revamp to bring it up to F1 standard, with further question marks over contracts and just where all the money is coming from, following a number of setbacks for Gillett's Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd (DVLL) company since the change of venue was announced eight months ago.
What's more, yesterday F1 ringmaster Ecclestone suggested that even if all of the required work is completed by the agreed summer 2010 deadline, there is still no guarantee that Donington will be a feature on the calendar next season [see separate story – click here
]. Gillett, though, insists he is 'between 101 and 102 per cent confident' that the race will go ahead, and argues that what he refers to as 'the British motor racing establishment' had better get used to the idea.
“They said I'd never buy the circuit – and I did,” he underlined in an interview with The Sun
. “They said I'd never get Bernie Ecclestone to do a deal for the grand prix – and I did. They said I'd never get planning permission – and I did.
“The more they say these things, the better we seem to be doing – so it's actually quite a motivational driver. It's time they stop knocking and start believing, because I'm going to keep on building this project. Things like pit complexes will keep coming out of the ground. At what point will they actually realise we are going to do it?
“I think they'll follow the fans, who know Donington is the only chance Britain has of retaining a grand prix – Bernie has stated that quite openly – but I'm not going to court them. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and they can come on-board as and when.”
The significant redevelopment process began earlier this year, and amongst the improvements at are a new pit-lane and paddock complex along the Starkey Straight – which will become the new start-finish line – the displacement of the famous Dunlop Bridge, a new infield section which will join the present layout at the final corner, Goddards, enhanced media facilities and better access for fans.