Silverstone is not up for sale – that it the emphatic message that has been sent out by the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) in the wake of speculation to the contrary, with the circuit's owners insisting that far from 'flogging' the track, they are in fact making sure that it is ready to continue hosting the British Grand Prix in 2010 should the need arise.
Donington Park's well-documented ongoing problems have prompted Formula 1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone – the man who awarded Simon Gillett's Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd (DVLL) company a ten-year contract to host the blue riband
event on the British motorsport calendar last summer – to muse over the prospect of a hiatus next year, with the race returning in 2011.
There has also, though, been evidence of a leaked letter sent out by BRDC chairman Robert Brooks to club members tabling the idea of selling Silverstone, potentially to Ecclestone, which in the light of Donington's trials and tribulations could possibly enable the Northants former airfield to retain the grand prix.
The Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive has repeatedly insisted that the event will not return to Silverstone at any cost – but then many have attributed those statements to his unwillingness to do business with the BRDC in terms of fees, an obstacle that would be removed should he purchase the venue from them [see separate story – click here
However, not only has Brooks subsequently denied that there are any intentions to sell, but indeed he contends that Silverstone remains the best place for the race in 2010, with many now fearing that there is no way Donington will be ready in time for next year.
“The fact of the matter is [that] for some time we've been encouraging the business of Silverstone to run as a business and the club to run as a club,” he told local newspaper the Northampton Chronicle
, “but that doesn't mean we're flogging Silverstone. Obviously, the BRDC continues to own Silverstone, and I think if we were looking to sell it, we wouldn't set about doing it by getting all the newspapers to write about it.
“We're continuing to invest a lot of money in Silverstone. We're putting in several million over the next ten-to-twelve months, making changes to the circuit for the MotoGP and continuing to improve our pit and paddock facilities, so Silverstone is moving forward. We're ready for the 2009 grand prix, and we're ready for 2010 if necessary.
“We have to keep investing to keep the circuit up with the best-of-the-best, and I think we're going to have a cracking grand prix. I think everyone will agree when they get to Silverstone this year [that] it's in the best shape it's ever been.”
Silverstone is presently due to host its final British Grand Prix on 21 June.