Thursday evening saw Donington Park receive the planning permission it required to move ahead with its plans to play host to the British Grand Prix from 2010.

Crash.net was amongst a group of journalists invited to sit down for a round the table chat with Simon Gillett, the chief executive of the circuit, at the Autosport International show to discuss the news and to get up to date with how the work is moving along.

This in-depth, three part, question and answer reflects on what Gillett had to say...

Q:
Have you spoken to Bernie since the application went through?

Simon Gillett:
I spoke to him this morning [Friday].

Q:
What did he say?

Simon Gillett:
Congratulations. He is over the moon and very happy.

Q:
Going back to the financing. Can you clear up to what extent you and your co-director Paul White have a stake in this. Are you in a position to bail out the race if you hit problems?

Simon Gillett:
We know what we are going to achieve and what we have and haven't put in is between me and Paul so I'm not going to clear that up at all. But the circuit is safe.

Q:
With all these events going off to the Middle and Far East for state backed grand prix, how are you going to make a profit? Are you confident you can make a profit?

Simon Gillett:
Absolutely. We wouldn't be doing this otherwise as we are not a charity, we are a commercial business. We have spent a lot of time working through this plan and negotiating and we have only done a deal that we felt was commercially viable.

Q:
Where do you think you will be able to make a profit where others have failed?

Simon Gillett:
Utilisation of the assets we are building. A prime example is where you guys will be sitting in the media centre. You typically go to a grand prix, it looks like a hangar and they hang a series of plasma screens from the roof and that is pretty much it. Our media centre, when you look at what we are building, is a 500 seater stepper auditorium with four large screens at the front. In other words, it is a conference centre for 363 days a year and not a media centre when you guys aren't in town. That is what you do. You don't build stuff for Formula One, you build stuff that is commercially viable and then adapt it.

Q:
Can you explain why your chief operating office Lee Gill stepped down in the autumn?

Simon Gillett:
I said at the time, Lee was there to help us to get to a point where the plans were submitted. We have been friends for a long time and the idea was to get us to a certain point. I would work on F1 and the submission, he would work on running the business. When that was finished, there was no point in having two of us at the top of the pile. I was always agreed that when we got to that point, Lee would go on and focus on his other commitments.

Q:
The idea of a public transport grand prix. How easy will that be to pull off as a lot of fans said how will they bus 90,000 fans in and out of the event without it being problematic? How do you see it working?

Simon Gillett:
Well you don't bus 90,000 people in for a start. There will be people who will drive into the site like disabled people, campers, the FIA and the paddock club - those people will be driving in and out how they need to travel. Then we will have a park and walk scenario so within a mile, a mile and a half of the circuit, we will have remote car park where people will park their cars and walk in. Then outside that into our Zone C is where the public transport will kick in and we will probably see 30,000 people using that to get in - and that is a combination of planes, trains and coaches.

Q:
Is that a scheme that you will look to trial at smaller events, maybe something like Superbikes or Touring Cars to see how it works?

Simon Gillett:
We will certainly look at it this year. We have the MotoGP which is a fantastic opportunity to trial elements of the plans. So things like the bike Grand Prix, World Superbikes, we will be trying out part of the plans to see how it works. We are working with the police and the highways, it isn't just us doing this. We are having a really co-ordinated approach and have had a number of meetings on it and are working through this planning with them.

Q:
At what stage might they put an injunction in to say it isn't working?

Simon Gillett:
It's the same with anyone. If it isn't safe then the council will put an injunction in and that is why we are working with them. As I said in the council meeting, this isn't Simon Gillett's Grand Prix, it isn't Donington's Grand Prix, it is our Grand Prix. The East Midlands has fully embraced that.

Q:
What are the criteria on which you will be judged by Bernie in September? Has he set specific targets that you have to meet?

Simon Gillett:
We have a plan that he is aware of and he signed off the plans for what we are going to build. He has seen the construction plans and if he turns up and all we have done is dig a small hole, he is going to walk away and I would expect him to. If we are on plan, or ahead of plan as we should be, then he will be a happy man.

Q:
Is there any specific target or does he just need to see that progress is being made?

Simon Gillett:
Absolutely - correct.

Q:
How many spectators are you hoping for for race one?

Simon Gillett:
134,500 - that would be fantastic. Realistically, there is a saturation point of around 80,000-90,000 people.

Q:
What sort of mixed grandstand and grass?

Simon Gillett:
You guys know Donington well, everything is a grandstand with the amphitheatre there is...

Q:
But there will be a difference in price, that is why I'm asking...

Simon Gillett:
Absolutely. We aren't sure how we will price this yet. We are looking at pricing based on location rather than just what you are sitting on, so one grandstand might be cheaper than other places have in the past to drive the capacity up.

Q:
When do you think you will finalise those details?

Simon Gillett:
All of it depends on when the FIA finalises the 2010 calendar. Once we know the dates, that is when we will go on sale. When that happens, we can announce what we will do but at the moment, the 2010 calendar can't go on sale. That isn't a priority at the moment - building the thing is more important than working on prices for 18 months time.

Q:
But you didn't secure the financing based on those sales?

Simon Gillett:
No.

With thanks to the other journalists present for questions asked during the session.