F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone has joined FIA President Max Mosley in admitting that should Donington Park fail to be ready in time to host the 2010 British Grand Prix, then Silverstone will 'for sure' retain the race – something he has always previously insisted is simply not an option.
Both Mosley and Ecclestone have been bordering on the vitriolic in their denigration of the celebrated 'Home of British Motor Racing' in recent years, accusing its facilities of being insufficient and outdated – and last summer's ten-year deal with Donington, subsequently extended to 17, looked to be the final nail in the Northants circuit's coffin.
However, its Leicestershire rival's ambitious £80 million redevelopment programme to bring the venue up to the necessary F1 standard has been repeatedly stymied by all manner of issues, including most notably questions about the provision of funding, the departure of Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd (DVLL) CEO Simon Gillett's business partner Lee Gill, the temporary loss of its racing licence leading to the consequent enforced cancellation of a number of events and a law suit from circuit owner Tom Wheatcroft for an alleged £2.47 million in unpaid rent – ultimately settled out of court.
That has prompted many to surmise that – allied to Donington's poor access – the project is little more than a hugely expensive pipe dream, and now Ecclestone has dropped the first hint that they may be right. Traditionally at loggerheads with Silverstone owners the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), it seems there may finally have been something of a rapprochement
between the two parties – and as Donington falls from favour, Silverstone looks to be back in the ascendancy once again.
“We've got an agreement with Donington, and I hope they can complete that agreement and do all the things they are supposed to do,” the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive told the BBC
. “If they can't, then for sure we will be back at Silverstone.
“There's been a big change with the BRDC; there are more commercial people involved now, people prepared to do all the things we want [to rectify] the reasons we left in the first place.”