Donington Park has seen its racing licence refused by the Motor Sports Association (MSA) due to safety concerns over some of its recent track improvements – but the setback has no bearing upon the circuit's ability to stage next year's British Grand Prix, it has been underlined.
The Leicestershire venue has been dogged by rumours and controversy since being awarded a ten-year contract to welcome the top flight and host the blue riband
event on the British racing calendar, with whispers over the past few weeks that one of the banks involved in the project has since withdrawn its support due to the global credit crunch and many surmising that there is no feasible way that the track will have been brought up to Formula 1-standard by next summer. The latest revelation will only add fuel to their fire.
The construction work to improve the circuit has had the knock-on effect of reducing the run-off area by the new tunnel, which leads to where the new pit-lane is to be built. That has prompted 'significant issues' on the safety front, with claims that much work will be required to resolve the problem.
A temporary racing licence has been approved to allow Donington to go ahead with its MG Car Club Championships and the Historic Sports Car Club Trophy Races this weekend – and Simon Gillett's Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd (DVLL) company is adamant that preparations to welcome F1 next year remain well on-course.
“The Motor Sports Association has been working closely with Donington Park in recent days to address the issue of the track licence,” explained MSA chief executive Colin Hilton. “A temporary arrangement has now been agreed to enable this weekend's events to take place, after which we will continue to work with the circuit to address any outstanding issues. It should be understood that this matter is not in any way connected to Donington Park's contract to host the British Grand Prix from 2010.”
“It's in danger of getting out of proportion,” added an MSA spokesman, when questioned on the matter by Crash.net
. “The local press got hold of something and linked it to the grand prix, when in fact it's got nothing to do with the grand prix. It's simply to do with the domestic racing licence.
“They have made some changes, and we need to make sure those changes fit in with safety for the track licence. We will sit back down after this weekend and work out what's going to happen.”
Silverstone has played home to the British Grand Prix on no fewer than 42 occasions since the official inception of the world championship back in 1950. Donington has only once before welcomed F1, having staged the rain-lashed European Grand Prix in 1993 – an event so famously won by the legendary Ayrton Senna.