F1 »

Silverstone 'would have withered' without F1

John Watson says the British Grand Prix was key to Silverstone staying alive as a circuit
Former British Grand Prix victor John Watson has said that Silverstone 'would have withered' if the event had made its planned move up the M1 to Donington Park.

It was announced back in 2008 that the event was to move away from Silverstone from 2010 onwards, only for the plans to take F1 back to Donington ultimately failing as promoters were unable to find the necessary funding to complete upgrade work at the East Midlands circuit.

As a result, Silverstone reclaimed the rights to host the race in a 17-year long deal, with the 2010 race being run on the new Arena circuit layout.

This season's race will be the first to make use of the new pit and paddock complex – dubbed the 'Silverstone Wing' – and BRDC member Watson admits that keeping the F1 race and redeveloping the circuit had been key to ensuring Silverstone didn't 'wither on the vine'.

“The reality in my mind is that if we hadn't retained the grand prix and if we hadn't done something on a commercial level, there was no way it would have been possible to generate the income to retain the circuits at their current licencing levels,” he said during the launch of the new Silverstone Wing. “This is a grade one circuit which you need for F1 but it would have withered on the vine and wouldn't have been sustainable. The BRDC and the circuit would, over time, have withered.

“In the real world, the way Grand Prixs are granted isn't down to history or heritage, it is because of the facility you provide – primarily for F1 but also now for MotoGP.

“To have a GP contract you have to provide a facility that is comparable to the rest of the calendar and certainly we have seen in the new world in places like china and Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, enormous strides being taken in what is created to host F1; Silverstone needed to respond and react to that. Being a former 1950s GP rights holder wasn't going to get that done, and we had to make the investment, we had to commit commercially to building something appropriate to the title of a Grand Prix of MotoGP race.”

The Wing will not only be used for race meetings but also for other commercial activities, with conferences and launches amongst the services being offered to potential clients.

“This is a building that can be used commercially and that can generate income at non-motorsport events,” Watson added. “It is like an aircraft. If you take a Boeing 747, every minute it is on the ground it is losing money and Silverstone is no different. We are effectively a Boeing 747. This facility has to be used every day of the year to generate income to allow it to support itself and that is just business, it isn't rocket science.

“We are now working to generate the income and there is a huge amount of interest because of its location. Why we didn't do it ten or 15 years ago is beyond me – maybe the momentum wasn't there. We have created this building and it can now make its money from commercial ventures, which we haven't been able to do in the past.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jarno Trulli (ITA) Lotus Racing
Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing
Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Pirelli 2017 tyre test [Credit: Pirelli]
13.11.2016 - Race, Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing RB12 and Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12
13.11.2016 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
13.11.2016 - Race, Birds
13.11.2016 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Safety car
13.11.2016 - Race, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
13.11.2016 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
13.11.2016 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
13.11.2016 - Race, Felipe Nasr (BRA) Sauber C34
13.11.2016 - Race, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
13.11.2016 - Race, Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11
13.11.2016 - Race, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
13.11.2016 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
13.11.2016 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H and Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
13.11.2016 - Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-31 and Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW38

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.

Ben M - Unregistered

May 20, 2011 12:47 PM

Glad it stayed at Silverstone. Not only does the track suit F1 better, but Donington is also a great track for racing in lower formulae and I'm happy they reverted the changes.

© 1999 - 2016 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.