Bernie Ecclestone has said that it would be the best possible route for the redevelopment of Silverstone if the site were to be leased to an interested party from Qatar.
Having found time for a dig at the home of the British Grand Prix
when praising the new facility at Buddh International Circuit
in India at the weekend, Ecclestone admitted that he could only see the planned revamp of the land surrounding Silverstone being accelerated by outside investment, even if it means the British Racing Drivers' Club handing over control for a lengthy period of time.
The addition of a new pit-lane and paddock complex in time for this year's British Grand Prix
was the latest phase of the circuit's redevelopment, but plans for further additions - including hotels, a museum and technology centre - which were unveiled in August
, has the BRDC looking for a financial partner. Harrods-owner Qatar Investment Authority emerged as the leading choice from a shortlist of interested parties
drawn up by PricewaterhouseCoopers, but Britain's Sunday Times
newspaper reports that Alpha Group has since put down a non-refundable £1m deposit to remain as preferred bidder for the short-term.
Should it be successful, Alpha Group would reportedly pay around £2.5m in annual rent and promise to invest at least £50m in development, as well as taking on the BRDC's current debt of £23.5m, but there are apparently concerns from within the current ownership about handing control to a foreign consortium, despite Qatar having already made several significant investments in the UK, including buying London department store Harrods and investing in property development around the capital.
Ecclestone, however, sees no drawbacks to the plan, believing that it would help turn Silverstone into the world-class facility he continues to compare it to each time a new circuit joins the calendar.
“It's a wonderful idea,” he told Britain's Daily Telegraph
newspaper during the Indian Grand Prix
weekend, “It's what Silverstone needs. They need to let the professionals run it. The new owners will put proper people in, commercialise it and run it properly. I don't have any problem with it at all. They will get the job done. They won't muck around."
The octogenarian also warned other venues - and business at large - that it would be pointless to deny the buying power of the Far and Middle East.
“People in Europe have got to understand that Europe will be sold to the Chinese or India or these people in the Middle East,” he said. “It is gradually happening now. We are in no position to compete and this circuit here in India is a good example. This is private enterprise here. There is no government money but these people got on and did it. We [in Europe] sit back and hope it will happen — these people get on with it.”