One of the key partners in Donington Park's bid to host the British Grand Prix from 2010 onwards has confessed that 'now is not the best time to be persuading people to part with money for a new sporting proposition' and that they 'would have been more confident of being able to do this twelve months ago'.

Formula 1's commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone - who awarded Donington the ten-year deal to take over from Silverstone in welcoming Britain's blue riband motorsport event from next year - has given the Leicestershire venue's owners Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd (DVLL) a deadline of September to secure both planning permission and the necessary funding to complete the ambitious ?100 million, five-year re-development that will be required to bring its facilities and amenities up to F1 standard.

"They have a contract with us that I am sure they understand," the sport's supremo told the Daily Telegraph, "and I would imagine they have considered the state of the market and have a fall-back position.

"I am relying on what they told me they will deliver, and we have a September deadline, from memory, to see that all is as it should be. If it is not then we have four or five venues ready to stage a race."

It is understood that Donington is currently trying to raise the final ?40 million towards its re-development budget, set to pay for a track re-alignment, a new pit and paddock complex, six new grandstands to seat as many as 68,000 fans, a new media centre and new hospitality suites amongst other upgrades and improvements. However, amidst the current global credit crunch, realisation is beginning to dawn that such a task will be far from easy, leaving the circuit facing a dramatic race against time if it is to successfully honour its commitment to stage the race.

DVLL's intention is to secure the required funding by offsetting bank debt against future ticket revenue, largely from the corporate sector. Such an approach was used effectively in the construction of Wembley Stadium, where bank loans of more than ?400 million were raised against the potential of premium seat licences sold to corporate customers.

The goal, according to the Telegraph, is to sell more than 6,000 seats to corporate customers, at an annual cost of ?5,000 a seat - thereby generating as much as ?30 million a year from just five-to-ten per cent of paying customers. However, seat licences will not go on sale until July, meaning there will be less than a year to sell the packages and that the money will need to be raised whilst, rather than before, the on-site construction takes place.

"Would we rather have been testing the market and putting together this product a year ago? Of course we would," acknowledged Andrew Hambel, chief executive of ISG, a joint venture between sports media giant IMG and stadium finance specialists Bastion and the company engaged to structure the seat packages for the 2010 race.

"Now is neither the best time to be persuading people to part with money for a new sporting proposition, nor is it the best time to be asking banks to back an offer of this sort.

"Of course we would have been more confident of being able to do this twelve months ago, but the project has a lot going for it. Formula 1 remains a huge draw, and the Lewis Hamilton effect is very positive. Whether it all stacks up to deliver the kind of financing we need is uncertain, but we would not be devoting the time we are to putting this package together if we were not confident that we can deliver."

There are also concerns regarding access to the track, with DVLL chief executive Simon Gillett declaring his intention to make the race a public transport-only event, by dint of a park-and-ride scheme for the majority of the predicted 80,000-100,000 ticket-holders. The nearby East Midlands Airport has also insisted that it will not be able to manage the quantity of helicopter traffic expected over the grand prix weekend.

What's more, there are local fears about the potential for congestion in nearby villages Melbourne, Aston, Weston, Kings Newton and Barrow, as well as damage to the 13th century Swarkestone Bridge.

"This proposed development is a matter of great concern to my constituents," councillor John Harrison, who represents Melbourne and Kings Newton, is quoted as having said by the Derby Evening Telegraph. "All of these villages are apprehensive about what this is going to mean for them.

"I believe the good people of South Derbyshire deserve the courtesy of a consultation on transport matters which could have a serious adverse impact on their lives."

South Derbyshire District Council's environment and development committee has nevertheless given its backing to the plans, with calls for noise-monitoring equipment to be installed in villages near the track.

Following delays in planning permission for the project, North West Leicestershire District Council is set to finally give the green light tomorrow (Thursday). That means that at best Donington will have just 18 months to complete the re-development.

It is also believed that there will likely be a number of conditions attached to any ratification, including no more than 40 motor racing days to be held per year, temporary grandstands during the summer months only and on-site parking during F1 events to be restricted to disabled visitors, VIPs and campers.

Software entrepreneur Gillett's business partners include Monaco-based property developer Paul White - whose company Revelan Estates has significant assets in the Midlands - and chartered surveyor Nicholas Megyesi Schwartzand James Gallon, said to be a key financial advisor. Operating officer Lee Gill left DVLL back in September, with experienced F1 PR advisors Sadhu and Simon having similarly departed the scene since the British Grand Prix deal was done.

Gillett purchased the 100-acre Donington site for ?30 million on a 150-year lease from Tom Wheatcroft just under two years ago, and is positive the necessary work can all be completed within just nine months.

"I don't have to convince people," he asserted. "I'll convince them by building it."