Should British GP be held at Donington or Silverstone?
If the fate of F1 in general remains precariously up in the air as a result of the ongoing FIA/FOTA civil war, with eight of the ten current teams threatening to launch a separate 'breakaway' series, then the future of the British Grand Prix is also far from clear – but where do you believe it should be held?
Last summer, the sport's commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone awarded Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd (DVLL) chief executive Simon Gillett a ten-year contract for Donington Park to take over from Silverstone as the venue for the blue riband event on the UK's annual motorsport calendar. Though that deal has since been extended to 17 years, the ambitious £80 million redevelopment required in order to bring its facilities up to F1 standard has been beset by problems.
Those have included the unexpected departure of Gillett's business partner Lee Gill, the temporary loss of its racing licence and consequent embarrassing cancellation of a number of meetings and the threat of legal action from circuit owner Tom Wheatcroft for almost £2.5 million in unpaid rent.
Whilst all of those hurdles have been overcome, Gillett has now hinted that the damaging FIA/FOTA stand-off is negatively affecting the procurement of funding for the work and that should the big names like Ferrari, McLaren, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso quit the top flight for another series, he would 'have the right to a talk with Bernie', and a potential 'get-out' clause [see separate story – click here].
On the other side, Silverstone – which hosted its 43rd and, on the surface, final British Grand Prix at the weekend – has received a wealth of support from the teams, drivers and fans alike, with race-winner Sebastian Vettel describing it as a 'dream' circuit. More significantly still, the powers-that-be – Ecclestone and Mosley – have softened their traditional opposition to the celebrated 'Home of British Motor Racing' in revealing that if Donington is not ready in time for next year, then Silverstone will continue to hold the event. All of which leaves the situation in rather a mess.