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Ecclestone: No regrets – and 'no penalties' for Donington

27 October 2009

F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed talk of Donington Park being liable for as much as £18 million in damages should the seemingly inevitable occur and the circuit prove unable to host the 2010 British Grand Prix as per its agreement – as he insisted that he has no regrets about having handed Simon Gillett the contract to stage the race.

Following the failure of both a debenture initiative and bond scheme and lapsed deadline after lapsed deadline in terms of its ambitious £135 redevelopment project in order to bring the track and its outmoded facilities up to the required F1 standard, it appears as though Gillett's Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd (DVLL) company has finally run out of ideas for how to honour its 17-year deal with Formula One Management (FOM), run by Ecclestone [see separate story – click here].

Less than nine months now from the 2010 event, it looks likely that Donington will be welcoming neither F1 nor MotoGP, which it lost to Silverstone – and, according to British newspaper the Daily Telegraph, DVLL could now be facing administration due to its debts from the ruinous venture. Worse still, documents linked to the failed loans endeavour suggest that Ecclestone would be within his rights to seek £18 million in 'liquidated damages' should the bid fall through – something the British billionaire denies.

“No, there are no penalties – not at all,” the 78-year-old told The Times. “I don't regret it. If they could have done what they said they were going to do, and what the contract said they had to do, it would have been good.”

Whilst it has been reported that traditional British Grand Prix host Silverstone is now all set to step in to fill the void, negotiations between the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) and Ecclestone – never the most comfortable of bedfellows – are deadlocked, with the former adamant that it cannot afford to pay the going rate, and that it will not merely act as a single-year stop-gap to enable time for Gillett and Donington to get their act together.

“I'm confident a deal can be worked out,” BRDC President and 1996 F1 World Champion Damon Hill told BBC Radio Northampton. “The contract can be of any combination of years, but it has to be affordable. There's a huge desire to get the deal done, but we're not prepared to put [Silverstone] at risk financially.”


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