Formula One's decision to switch the British Grand Prix from Silverstone to Donington Park in two years' time could revolutionise the brand image of the Derbyshire racetrack, according to a source close to the new deal.

Donington bosses signed a ten-year contract with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management operation, which was revealed on the eve of the 2008 grand prix at Silverstone, and are set to confirm third party agreements in the media this week. However, a source at Donington told BritSport Weekly that is more than just a facelift that the venue stands to gain.

"This has to mean a big shift in brand profile because Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport," the source reasoned, "Donington will become the brand leader with host rights of the British grands prix on two and four wheels."

Donington currently hosts the British leg of the MotoGP world championship and the 'European' round of World Superbikes and, with the MotoGP contract due to end in 2009, is keen to extend both deals, securing the circuit's status as 'the home of British motor racing'.

The circuit is planning a five-year, ?100 million development project to ensure that its facilities are able to meet the expectations of Formula One, particularly with rumours that it will not be able to meet the 2010 deadline, possibly allowing Silverstone in through the back door - or at the expense of the British Grand Prix altogether.

"We made clear our commitment towards realising the potential of the Park by making the necessary investments in current and future events that will see Donington revitalised, ensuring its position as one of the most iconic racing circuits in the world," owners and joint CEOs Simon Gillett and Lee Gill said in a statement.

The future of Silverstone is less clear meanwhile, although BRDC president Damon Hill has streesed that the circuit plans to continue with its own 'master plan' for redevelopment, not only in an attempt to woo Formula One back to Northamptonshire, but to improve facilities for the continuation of other forms of motorsport, including plans to attract the likes of MotoGP, WSBK and A1GP.

"As far as Silverstone is concerned, we have just got to continue what we have been doing for the past 50 years, working to the best of our ability for the track and the club," Hill told F1.com, "And, who knows, perhaps in five or ten years, there will be an opportunity for Formula One to come back to us."

Financially, the loss of the British Grand Prix is not expected to be as devastating as is widely expected, as it is usual for the track to make a loss on the event with all revenues other that that generated by ticket sales belonging to Formula One Management.

It is the iconic nature of the British GP that will be the biggest loss for Silverstone.

 

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