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...

Related Articles

Q:
In the last six months, at least six grand prix have withdrawn or been canned or said they can't continue. Does that scenario not frighten you?

Simon Gillett:
I don't know the commercial terms they have. I know what our commercial terms are and we can support those.

Q:
You once said that when you signed, Bernie made the same offer to you and to the BRDC and whoever picked it up first would get it. If they couldn't make it work, why do you think you can?

Simon Gillett:
Maybe I was misquoted or I didn't make it clear. We both had contracts on the table but whether they are the same, I don't know. My contract was do-able, hence we picked it up. I don't know what their contract focused on but the elements we focused on made it worthwhile. But we both had the same opportunity.

Q:
But maybe not the same contract?

Simon Gillett:
I'm sure it wasn't the same contract.

Q:
In terms of the circuit, we know about changes made to the pit straight and to the new loop. But what kind of changes will you need to implement elsewhere? Will there be other revisions?

Simon Gillett:
Not at all. It remains untouched from half way down the current start straight all the way round to McLeans.

Q:
What about at the bottom of the Craner Curves on things like drainage as in national events in recent years we have seen water drain down to the old hairpin. Will there need to be work done there?

Simon Gillett:
Well I went to Silverstone this year and apparently flooding makes a great race! I was told it was the best race because Lewis was running through puddles! We have one of the best draining circuits in the country but if there is torrential rain then we will have a problem; like anywhere else. Drains have a finite capacity and if the rain is more than that then there is a problem but we have a new drainage plan and the drains will be kept clear. But we don't have to cancel races because of water, we are one of the few circuits that is able to drain because of the topography we have.

Q:
Which brings me to the question about races in the wet at Silverstone. In 2000 there was the race where cars in off-circuit parking were being towed out a week later. How will you prevent this if you have off-circuit parking as I assume you will be using farmers land for some of it?

Simon Gillett:
No, not for all of it. A lot of the off-circuit parking that we are using, for example Derby County Football Club which has capacity for 6,000 vehicles, is all tarmac. We have Toyota at Burnaston which has capacity for 3,000 vehicles on tarmac and DHL next door who don't run at weekends and have capacity for parking on a hard surface, so there are lots of hard-standing areas we can use. As we are coming out with our plans, more areas are becoming available. There will be some grass parking and if people get stuck, I don't want it to happen but I want them to not bring their cars and use the other options.

Q:
What it did so in 2000 was give Bernie the chance to attack the circuit. If it happens to you, can you take that criticism?

Simon Gillett:
Absolutely. We want to run a great grand prix and I am trying to say to people, don't bring your car. If people want to, I'm warning them that it will cost them more and they will be parking on grass and walking. There is a better option - use the train or get the bus in.

Q:
Personally speaking, how stressful has this experience been for you as as soon as it was announced there were doubters said it would never happen?

Simon Gillett:
I don't get stressed, I am quite lucky in that respect. I have grown bigger businesses in the past. Whilst it is the British Grand Prix and people get upset about it, its not a hard business to run. Coming from a business that is turning over ?300-400 million with 400 employees - that is stressful. The Grand Prix is a big thing but getting planning permission, dealing with Bernie, talking to journalists - it doesn't phase me. None of you will shoot me so it isn't too bad!

Q:
Are the guys working at the circuit now?

Simon Gillett:
Yeah. We have the hole in the track so they are at it.

Q:
How many guys are down there?

Simon Gillett:
We have about 60 guys on site and 20 yellow machines running around so we are on it.

Q:
Have you spoken to Tom Wheatcroft since yesterday [Thursday]?

Simon Gillett:
Yes, he's over the moon with it. He has given us a quote on it and he is over the moon.

Q:
What was the quote?

Dave Fern - Donington spokesman:
His dream was the Grand Prix should have been at Donington a long time ago. He saw it in 1992 and he will see it again in 2010 and is adamant that he will see it for the next ten years at least. He said planning was the first step and there is a lot of hard work ahead but then it will be there. It won't be his baby now like it was in 1992 but he is as enthusiastic as he was then when Ayrton Senna produced the goods in the rain - a very wet day at Donington by the way!

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