Donington Park is entering the final throes of its attempt to snatch the British Grand Prix away from Silverstone, with a crisis meeting apparently planned for Monday [12 October] to decide whether the bid is ever going to be viable.
The Leicestershire circuit has twice been given extensions to the deadline by which it needs to confirm that the necessary finances are in place to carry out the overhaul of both its track and facilities [read stories here and here
], but there has been no confirmation that Simon Gillett has managed to secure the estimated £100m in funding. Work has begun on extending and widening the track, as well as constructing new pit buildings, paddock complex, media and medical centres.
Now various British newspapers are reporting that he has until Monday to convince F1 commercial guru Bernie Ecclestone that Donington deserves to replace long-time host Silverstone as time runs out for either to prepare properly for the 2010 event.
The Daily Telegraph
reports that a deal with Citigroup bank is 'in danger of stalling amid the uncertainty', as the catch 22 situation unfolds, but the Financial Times
believes that 'Citigroup had secured a loan of £120m and equity of £25m' but that 'the deal was held up by Citigroup having to find a £12m line of credit from a third party', with 'some lenders worried about the short timescale for getting Donington ready for the event, saying the circuit would have to complete infrastructure work and sell debentures and hospitality at the same time'.
Donington was awarded an initial contract to stage the grand prix on the eve of the 2008 British round at Silverstone, and Ecclestone surprised the F1 fraternity further by extending the deal to 17 years as this season's Silverstone event loomed. Since then, however, he has expressed doubts about whether the circuit will have the necessary finances in place to debut in 2010 [read story here
Neither Ecclestone or Gillett were prepared to comment on the situation before next week but, all the while, Silverstone waits in the wings to learn whether or not it is to hastily start preparing for the return of F1 - something it has said it would only be happy to do on a long-term basis, rather than as a one-off solution while Donington gets its house in order [see story here