The ongoing saga over the future of the British Grand Prix could be set to be resolved in a manner that few had previously anticipated – the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) selling Silverstone to Bernie Ecclestone so that the race can continue to be held at its traditional home.
There is uproar within the Formula 1 paddock over speculation that the blue riband
event on the UK motorsport calendar may not be held at all next year due to Donington Park's succession of struggles – leading to fears that the beleaguered Derbyshire venue will not be ready in time to host the race – but now it appears an alternative solution may be in the pipeline.
The required upgrades to bring the track up to F1 standard have been persistently stymied by setbacks including senior business partner Lee Gill departing the fray late last year, the bank financing the project pulling out, a delay in planning permission, a £2.47 million legal dispute with circuit owner Tom Wheatcroft and its national racing licence being revoked on safety grounds – precipitating the embarrassing and expensive cancellation or postponement of a number of meetings.
Following a meeting with Donington Ventures Leisure Limited (DVLL) chairman Simon Gillett – the man in charge of the ambitious £100 million redevelopment project – earlier this month to discuss progress, F1 supremo Ecclestone had hinted that a 2010 hiatus was possible, telling The Times
: “If the work at Donington is not finished in time, we would be happy to skip a year. I don't want to lose the British Grand Prix — that's the last thing we want to do – but we aren't going to Silverstone for sure.”
The Formula One Management (FOM) commercial rights-holder has never seen eye-to-eye with Silverstone's owners the BRDC on financial matters, and has repeatedly criticised the former airfield's facilities and infrastructure. However, in a leaked confidential letter to the club's members, it has now been revealed that chairman Robert Brooks has tabled the idea of selling the site that has been its preserve since 1971, The Guardian
Should Ecclestone step in and buy it, he would be free to stage the British Grand Prix wherever he so desires, meaning the 2009 event – set to be held at the self-styled 'Home of British Motor Racing' on 21 June – may not be the last to take place there after all.