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Does Silverstone still have an F1 future?

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Andrew Benson | 10:08 UK time, Saturday, 20 June 2009

Two big political stories were always going to dominate the Silverstone weekend - but the future of the British Grand Prix was mostly pushed to one side on Friday by the cataclysmic events surrounding the threat by eight of the teams to set up a breakaway championship in 2010.

At least it was until Max Mosley, of all people, dropped a little bombshell into his interview with the BBC.

After discussing the political crisis at length, the FIA president was asked his thoughts on it overshadowing the fact that this is, at least in theory, the last time Silverstone will host an F1 race for a very long time.

Mosley, who has been just as much a critic of Silverstone as his long-time cohort Bernie Ecclestone, proceeded to come out with what must be the most surprising quote of the weekend so far.

"In one way it's good," he said, "because it's not very nice to keep talking about this is the last Silverstone and what's going to happen at the British Grand Prix.

"On the other side I think the chance of there not being a British Grand Prix next year is very small and my personal view - and it's not for me to decide - is that it's highly likely it will be at Silverstone."

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This is the man who, at this race a year ago, celebrated in a joint release with Ecclestone the fact that the contract for the race from 2010 had been awarded to Donington Park.

It was a striking thing for Mosley to say on so many levels, and it left people wondering what on earth he was up to.

There are many people in F1 who think that Donington will not host the race next year.

Despite the protestations of Simon Gillett, the boss of the company that owns the lease to the track and who signed the contract with Ecclestone, few think that it will be ready.

Gillett says that building work is starting. But he still has to raise the money required to put the race on - and there are serious doubts that the debenture scheme he has created to do so will work.

So what happens if Donington cannot fulfil its contract? Ecclestone has said he will not let Silverstone host another race in its current condition - and the natural extension of that stance is that there would then be no British Grand Prix in 2010.

But what Ecclestone says and what he does are not always the same thing, so there are plenty of people in F1 who think that the race will, indeed, end up back at Silverstone next year.

For Mosley to come out and say that himself, however, was remarkable at this stage. Like the row between him and the teams, this one is going to run and run.


  • Comment number 1.

    Just a quick add to this. In an interview with BBC Sport before qualifying, Bernie Ecclestone has now come out and said that the British Grand Prix will "for sure" be back at Silverstone if Donington doesn't work out.

    It's almost as if Max and Bernie might have choreographed it...

  • Comment number 2.

    But will there be teams racing there next year? I think there will. I can't see two rival competitions, and, eventually, a compromise will be reached. So everyone back to Silverstone next year then?

  • Comment number 3.

    First things first: Sort out whether or not there will even be a Championship next year, then sort out the track. My vote is for Silverstone.

  • Comment number 4.

    A quiet read of the Ferrari entry on Wikipedia reveals what might be at the back of part of this row - Ferrari are the last team in F1 who have tobacco sponsorship, and it was worth $1bn over 5 years to 2011. A budget cap would mean they can't take money from the cancer sticks - but, more importantly, Philip Morris won't then cross-promote Ferrari sports cars to its macho male market in the developing world. So, as we begin to wonder whether this is all about egos, maybe it's all about marketing deals outside Europe (where the tobacco sponsorship cannot by law appear on the cars or vehicles) - it would be good to have a survey of Ferrari and Marlboro advertising elsewhere in the world beyond the reach of more morally conscious governments.

  • Comment number 5.

    Has Bernie given Silverstone a poisoned chalice ,on the lines of sign to me now for 2010 and possibly longer but exclusively to the FOM /FIA series or the deal is off .It all seemed a bit too glib and easy .Typical Bernie.

  • Comment number 6.

    Presumably a tactic to avoid Silverstone siding with a breakaway series?

  • Comment number 7.

    It seems to me that all the brouhaha about Silverstone arose from three things:

    1. An idiotic steward leaving Bernie Ecclestone floundering in the mud some years ago.
    2. A lack of commercial nous in the BRDC to ensure that the GP and the circuit could be a success on current terms.
    3. The Govt refusing to subsidise track development.

    The first shouldn't matter any more. They should fly Bernie in in a helicopter.

    The second shouldn't be a problem either. An imaginative business plan is what that takes. If you can have a successful new race horse track in West Wales, you can have a viable racing circuit 90 minutes from London.....if commercial nous exists on the BRDC Board........

    The third isn't necessary if the second is sorted out.

    Now if all parties would just get their acts together and stop being egotistical retired drivers/playboys and become successful business folks working in partnership for once, this could be sorted out by Christmas.

    One wonders why it takes the sorts of threats issued to date to knock heads together.

    I don't blame Max Mosley for calling a few people 'loonies': after what he's been through, it's hardly a case for jumping off a bridge, is it? All you have to do is to ask him to define 'loony' and then refute the charges utterly.........or accept that your behaviour has been challenging but can be forgotten as all move forward together........

    Now what all the teams need to realise is this: racing is most attractive to paying punters when it's not a procession. They want to see overtaking, different strategies making a difference and drivers, pit crews and engineers all being able to make a winning difference. On diferent circuits, different factors will predominate, but all should feel that success or otherwise was uniquely them at least once a year......if it's a procession why not just come to a private testing session?

    So if Ferrari want to spend £250m more than all the others, they're in the wrong game. They spend that to make better cars for the public highways.

    They need to have 9 other teams in real competition. And that's easiest when the budgets are somewhat similar.

    And maybe they should think about one or two races a season in a standard car design with the teams having 10 days testing/tinkering, to have just a couple of races where driving skill is more paramount that engineering superiority..........


  • Comment number 8.

    All single make/design series are deemed boring by the public except for Nascar ,about which it would be rude to comment on as they cannot help it poor luvs.

  • Comment number 9.

    Who will care about F1 next year without Ferrari plus Fota teams?

  • Comment number 10.

    alfsboy had it at at 5:05.
    Expect to see all the realistic alternative GP tracks like Silverstone, Imola etc stitched up by Bernie with promises of occasional or alternate year GPs in return for FIA exclusivity. Any alternative FOTA series will be forced to run on streets or really off the beaten track venues.

  • Comment number 11.

    This has been building up for years. Max uses the well worked tactic of coming up with changes, refusing to accept he might have to back down and compromise at all, either at the time or later has he says he will, and then slapping a deadline on entries for a new season to force teams to sign up. In the past teams would have looked around and everyone would have blinked. Now the teams have an organisation whereby they are united and have something they believe strongly in. Throwing in a comment about Silverstone is just diversionary because right now it doesn't matter.

  • Comment number 12.

    OK, heres how i see it, Mosely was bang out of order refering to the FOTA team heads as loonies, and needs to issue an unreserved apology to them. Also there were several other pointed remarks that i got the impression where aimed at Ron dennis and Montezemlo at Ferarri.

    I also got the impression that Mosely is trying to divide the teams, saying the Ferarri where happy with the cap and 2010 proposed changes, but whent hey got back to FOTA they changed thier minds.

    Bernies interview in the pit lane with Eddie J, DC, and the BBC presenter was again out of order when he said that the Teams should know their place and bend over and do what he and FIA told them.

    I cant see the likes of the new tracks wanting to host F1 races without the presence of the 'big teams' like Ferarri, Maclaren, Red bull, Brawn, let alone not having the the current World champion, and last 3 champions racing.

    So what happens next,

    1) the FIA sue FOTA and win, forcing them to provide cars or 'compensation' to FIA, if its the former the teams go bust, no cars, or the laster the teams turn up with cars and deliberatly dont race (eg travel in procession, or round the track 2 cars abrest, alternatively the cars turn up and dont pass Scrutinering.

    2) FIA sue FOTA and lose, FOTA set up the Premier Grand Prix Circuit.

    3) FIA and FOTA reach a compramise on a solution and they all have a group hug, and Max stands down at the end of the current season.

  • Comment number 13.

    Isn't the problem with F1 the overmanagement of the sport, all of the hangers on not adding much to the spectacle? We have the FIA, FOM and FOTA the people who actually put their money where their mouth is, rather than Mosley who nobody wants and will bankrupt the sport to lawyers to get his way. Maybe they should all agree that jointly they have FU big style. What is interesting is what we now see at Silverstone, coverage on the BBC website actually shows who will win unless there are driver errors or quality problems, how interesting is that. What a change to what happened in the days of Jackie Stewart etc. Not that we want to go back to the deaths of that era, but at least the racing was interesting, sorry for all those too young to remember it. Most of all I feel sorry that the BBC are having to waste so much license payers money on this farce, these days I only attempt to watch the start and finish, the rest is a total waste of time.

  • Comment number 14.

    Mosley's obvious feeble attempt to get the public back behind him while at the same time messing up FOTA's plans to hold a beakaway race there.
    Well so Max, put us public aren't stupid, and I doubt the BRDC are either, while they're free to do what they like you seem to be forgetting that you screwed them over only 12 months ago, and I'm sure they'll be looking to see what happens over the next couple months before they side with anyone. When they do I#m placing my bets on FOTA getting the deal with them.

  • Comment number 15.

    Funny that during all the interviews today nobody mentioned money. That's what the posturing, smoke and mirrors is all about. The teams don't want Mosely dictating (if I'm allowed to use that word in connection with him) their budgets and personally I don't blame them.
    Sooner they get it all sorted and get their heads back in the garage the better.
    Don't get excited about a breakaway championship because it won't get off the ground or if it does will go the same way as the others did - cricket, rugby, football they've all tried it at one time or another.
    It's simple maths in the end - x amount of money in the pot can only be shared out between x amount of teams.

  • Comment number 16.

    I also agree with notfooledsteve about BBC wasting money on covering the farce.
    It would also have been nice if they'd devoted a bit more time to championship leader Jenson Button instead of spending so much time following tail-ender McLaren drivers

  • Comment number 17.

    Here's some food for thought... In Australia the first release of tickets for the 2010 F1 race in Melbourne takes place around September this year - it's a pre-general public release to GP Advantage members. These are the supporters of F1 who go every year - the backbone of the sport. They'll need to have sorted this mess out by then or they'll be seriously putting at risk this commercial ticket sales strategy and with it the success of the Australian GP.


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