F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone has poured cold water upon Simon Gillett's bold assertion that the British Grand Prix could still take place at Donington Park in 2010 – by insisting that he will not step in to save the Leicestershire circuit's doomed bid.
Despite his company Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd (DVLL) having recently gone into administration after failing in its audacious £135 million redevelopment project to meet Ecclestone's 17-year offer, Gillett stated only a matter of days ago that Donington is not entirely out of the running to stage the blue riband
event on the UK motorsport calendar next year – even going so far as to rate the chances as 50/50 [see separate story – click here
Whilst many were quick to pour scorn upon such seemingly fanciful claims, others wondered whether behind Gillett's confidence was a financial promise from Ecclestone, with some surmising that the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive was planning a £100 million rescue package to buy the track, after purchasing the adjacent £5 million Donington Hall luxury hotel.
However, the British billionaire has stressed that such a scenario is emphatically not
the case, underlining that he is not prepared to stump up the cash himself to revive Donington's chances – regardless of whether or not agreement is reached with traditional British Grand Prix host Silverstone by the stipulated 9 December deadline, before next year's schedule is definitively rubber-stamped by the F1 Commission in Paris.
“I have not the slightest interest in buying Donington or running the British Grand Prix there,” the 79-year-old told the Daily Express
, adding: “What is Donington Hall?”
Should no signature be forthcoming from Silverstone owners the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), the spotlight will fall upon the various consortiums purportedly interested in buying Donington – but with time fast running out, the prospect of there being no British Grand Prix at all in 2010 is becoming increasingly real.
“The hurdle is making sure the deal is mutually beneficial,” BRDC President and 1996 F1 World Champion Damon Hill told the Evening Standard
, whilst admitting that he is 'quietly confident' about Silverstone's hopes. “That's got to be part of it, so we don't end up with another false start.”