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Relief all round as Silverstone secures British GP

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Andrew Benson | 14:46 UK time, Monday, 7 December 2009

Monday's announcement that Silverstone has signed a 17-year contract to host the British Grand Prix brings to an end one of the longest-running and, frankly, most tedious stories in Formula 1.

In more than 15 years covering the sport, I cannot remember a time when there was not some doubt about the future of the race that started the first F1 world championship in 1950.

In all that time, it was always assumed that, somehow, there would always be a British Grand Prix, that eventually F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone would swallow his heavy criticism of the track and come to some kind of a deal.

But as Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips said in Monday's news conference at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, "with Bernie, you just never know".

Now, though, with a 17-year-deal in its pocket, Silverstone and its owner the British Racing Drivers' Club have the security they always said they needed to bring about the improvements to the track and its facilities that Ecclestone has been so publicly demanding for so long.

The reasons there was always so much doubt about the race are, fundamentally, to do with money. And the uncertainty was not good for anyone - not for Silverstone, not for Ecclestone and not for F1.

It's all very well having countries in Asia and the Middle East queuing up to throw money at you for the honour of hosting a race. But they - and F1 itself - are diminished without the context provided by the classic tracks such as Silverstone, Spa, Monaco and Monza that have formed the history of the sport and which continue to provide the greatest challenge for the drivers.

The owners of spectacular new facilities such as those in China, Malaysia, Bahrain and most recently Abu Dhabi - where the new track that ended this year's championship has a grandstand that sits over a run-off area, and a tailor-made harbour - all recognise that. And with this contract Ecclestone has finally made it clear that he does, too.
abudhabi595.jpgSilverstone cannot hope to match the investment poured into spectacular new facilities such as Abu Dhabi

To be fair to Ecclestone, he was always faced with a difficult balancing act when it came to making contracts with the various circuits.

It is a task that includes weighing the above concerns with the desire to ensure the calendar did not go stale, to extend F1's global footprint, and, most recently, to maximise the profits for the private equity company that owns the sport's commercial rights.

The new tracks, without exception, have been created by governments who want to use F1 to raise their global profile, and are prepared to invest whatever it takes to make an impression.

First it was Malaysia in 1999. Since then each new track on the calendar has progressively raised the bar and built ever more spectacular temples to those ambitions.

But the historic tracks in Europe are working to a different agenda. Most of them - but not Silverstone - are funded by local or national governments who, being democracies, cannot justify the huge amounts of money being spent elsewhere simply to host a Formula 1 race.

Silverstone does not even have the luxury of government money. It is a private members club, and it has to work like any other business. So spending £200m plus simply to build a track, and then another £20-30m year to host a race was out of the question.

Donington Park, which signed in 2008 a 17-year contract to host the British GP from 2010, proved just how difficult it is to make the race work financially when it failed to raise the funding it needed and its contract was made void, at which point Silverstone started its talks with Ecclestone.

And even after two months of negotiations, which included strings being pulled by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, the numbers Silverstone will be paying are still eye-catching.

The figures are closely guarded, but it seems that Silverstone has a contract which means they will pay £12m for the race in 2010, with a 5% escalator year on year.

hillafp226.jpg

Assuming the contract runs its full 17 years - and there is a break clause that either party can operate after 2019 - that will be a total spend of £310m. And that's before any of the work redeveloping the circuit is taken into account.

Raising money will not be easy - with ticket prices the only direct way of doing so over the grand prix weekend, given that Ecclestone's companies have the rights to all trackside advertising.

Phillips said he wanted to keep ticket prices affordable, saying he was determined to provide "value for money", and emphasising that "we don't want to increase ticket prices just to pay the race fee". And BRDC president Damon Hill added that he felt Silverstone provided enough options on ticket packages to suit most pockets.

Beyond that, they were vague, talking of expanding the site and increasing the number of businesses that rent space on it - Silverstone hopes to create a kind of high-tech motorsport-leaning centre. Pressed for further detail, Phillips repeatedly used the word "creative" to describe the methods they would use to raise money.

One thing can be taken as read, though - the BRDC would not have signed the contract if they did not think they could make it work.

However they do that, the plans are ambitious: a new track layout for the brand new MotoGP contract in 2010, which will also be used for the F1 grand prix if it can be homologated in time; turning temporary grandstands into permanent ones; improving the sight lines for all spectators; better campsites, and so on.

I asked just how far Ecclestone was expecting them to go with the track and its buildings.

"We're going to build a harbour, aren't we?" Hill said, looking at Phillips. "It'll be filled with barges."

The fact that, after years of anguish and uncertainty, he is now able to joke about Silverstone and the British Grand Prix is a relief to all concerned.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Great News. As a resident of Silverstone village, I understand how much the GP contributes to the local economy. The benefits that the schools see from car parking etc is well worth a weekend of local disruption.

    It's a great atmosphere during race weekend.

    I just hope the BRDC follows through on the investment promises and brings the track up to world class standard, whilst remaining sensitive to the local community.

  • Comment number 3.

    RIP F1 at Donington and Tom Wheetcroft.

    The F1 fraternity in the UK should be ashamed of the way that this great man was treated after all he did for the sport both nationally and internationally, let alone his services to King and Country during WWII.

    He didn't even have the respect that was so deeply owed to him, paid to him in his last days and saw his dream frittered away by those behind the scenes politicians in F1 who worked as hard as they could to discredit the bid put together to bring F1 to Donington by Tom Wheetcroft and Bernie Ecclestone. They were true friends and enthusiasts of the sport.

    I hope that the Silverstone fraternity and Richard Phillips can be as “creative” in making things happen as they obviously are at preventing others from making progress. The old guard are still very much in power in F1 GB Co; ho hum same old same old.

    My only cause for comfort is that I know that what goes around comes around.

  • Comment number 4.

    I will have to buck the trend and say that I am not that excited that the British GP F1 showcase is once again Silverstone.

    I can accept that without Silverstone that there would've been no British GP - and that wouldn't have sat well with most people. But should Silverstone be granted the contract on the basis of default?

    (Just like Homer Simpson once cheered, "Is there any sweeter sounding two words than de fault. De fault! De fault! De fault!" I can sort of imagine another bumbling oaf saying something similar right now.)

    That in itself is almost as embarrassing as having no GP at all. So when the British GP gets beamed around the world once again next year other countries can comment and laugh on the fact that 'Great' Britain with all it's motorsport history only has one racing circuit that meets F1 demands. And even that circuit could do with being completely over hauled and redone from scratch. Not a postive image.

    People also complain time after time about wanting Barcelona struck off the calendar. Yet Silverstone is just as bad for the same processional and boring races that it tends to produce. Except Barcelona has much better facilities and is - lets be honest - in a much better setting. So why the double standards? If Barcelona was the circuit in question that had lost it's F1 contract I doubt we would see too many tears shed for it. Nor would we see the same euphoria and delight at seeing it reinstated. But at least Spain - a nation that only had it's first F1 champion in 2005 - has at least three circuits that could hold an F1 race.

    I just don't like Silverstone as the circuit is bland, the races are processional and the facilities are, as constantly reported, embarrassing, horrendous and second, if not third rate. Why would I get excited about Silverstone getting the contract again? I am far from it. But the problem again lies with 'needing' a British GP. Once again all I can here is 'De fault!' over and over again. Maybe the BRDC will finally pull the finger out and think of the fans for once with the track amendments and with modernising the facilities. I don't have much confidence but I am hoping the BRDC prove me wrong.

    I just can't seem to see a silver lining in much of this other than there is still a British GP. Just a shame that Donington Ventures Leisure couldn't secure the GP due to a lack of finances. I just hope that the BRDC don't now fleece the fans in order to pay the contract that they have so keenly signed.

  • Comment number 5.

    Good News Everybody - You have a package to deliver to Silverstone, its 17 more years of F1 :-)

  • Comment number 6.

    No matter which circuit hosted the event, I am thrilled that the British Grand Prix is now safe. I was always optimistic, and the F1 calendar would be very poor without it; after all, this is where it all began.

    I love F1 moving into new and splendid arenas, which are most impressive, but F1 needs the old along with the new. Silverstone, Monza, Monaco and Spa-Francorchamps are jewels - age old jewels - that cannot and must not be lost from F1.

  • Comment number 7.

    i am glad for silverstone because f1 without a british GP is ridiculous. alot of countries GP's are about the track (e.g belgium, monaco) but in britian there mere fact of it being the BRITISH Gp is the biggest factor and any track in the country would love to host it. although, silverstone is still one of the best tracks for pure racing.

  • Comment number 8.

    Glad that the British GP has survived obviously, though a bit disappointed that Silverstone has it for so long. Still, could be a lot worse.

  • Comment number 9.

    As far as I can see, the only truly compelling reason to have a British GP is that a high proportion of the teams are based here. Take that away and what's left? A fairly dull circuit (not the worst, but nowhere near the best) that produces fairly dull races - unless it rains of course.

    Okay I'm pleased we've kept a British GP as it's kind of nice from a patriotic point of view but really, that's about it. For those who are saying 'keep the historic tracks' I'd counter with; only if they're capable of producing good races! Monaco would be first off the calendar if I were in charge and there'd be a few not far behind it. What's the point in a circuit having a race, if there's no chance of it producing a race?

  • Comment number 10.

    #3 Fortunefavoursthebrave

    "I hope that the Silverstone fraternity and Richard Phillips can be as “creative” in making things happen as they obviously are at preventing others from making progress. The old guard are still very much in power in F1 GB Co; ho hum same old same old."

    I think your criticism of Silverstone in Donington's bid failing is unfounded. It wasn't Silverstone's fault, the downfall was caused by the banks who had promised funds for Donington backing out in the recession. If they'd bid 5 years ago with a more stable economy it probably would have happened. Your screen name is quite apt considering in Donington's and Simon Gillett's case, it didn't!

    Silverstone has done well to step in at pretty short notice and secure probably the longest race deal in F1 history. Credit must go to Damon Hill and his team for truly succeeding where previous BRDC leaders have failed. After years of talking about it, Silverstone's improvements are finally going to be completed. That is the least the supporters (280 000 over 3 days in 2009) deserve. Any news on when tickets go on sale for 2010?

  • Comment number 11.

    Quexlia: I think its very easy for people to say that the circuit produces a dull race but what circuit consistently produces a good one these days? History shows us that with cars able to follow each other closely and therefore overtake, Silverstone was one of the better spectacles. Drivers always comment on how good a circuit it is to drive and it provides a good test of a cars performance.

    My Good Self: I know my opinion doesnt represent what others may experience but I have been to Silverstone on three occasions and wouldnt describe the facilities as 'horrendous' or 'embarrassing.' I camped for three nights and went to all three days last year and felt that the facilities provided a comfortable weekend. My parents stayed in a local hotel and therefore had to travel to and from the circuit by car each day. They were able to do this with relative ease each time. The first thing I would change would be to put covers on more stands as that is the only thing that immediately stands out as making life more uncomfortable than it needs to be.

  • Comment number 12.

    My Good Self and Quexlia what are you talking about!?!? First of all, Silverstone had nothing to do with Donnington's holding group going into administration, they went down because they saw an opportunity got over excited and went to gun-ho before really managing the finances. It's a bit like Portsmouth FC being bought by an Arab businesman who then realises he does not have the money to pay the players wages!

    The facilities in question at Silverstone are more aimed at the paddock and pit area, Silverstone holds more fans than any other race track on the calender....must be a terrible track if it can only attract 100,000 on race day!!

    To say Silverstone does not produce great racing compared to the new tracks is way off the mark! How many over taking manouveres were made at the Abu Dhabi GP? If you don't like the track i'm sure you wont be missed and another eager and true F1 fan will take your place.

    I have been to Silverstone and other GB and European tracks and every circuit is special in their own right, I would be disappointed to see Catalunya go because that is a true classic of a circuit build for high speed which none of the new tracks really are with their 24 turns!!

    Delighted to see there is still a British GP and with the extra investment can only see it becoming even more memorable every year.

    Oh, and one more point......last time I checked the current drivers love racing at Silverstone.....

  • Comment number 13.

    @4, I'm all for people voicing a dissenting opinion, though if it is done merely to be contrary, I'm less impressed. I only mention this because your arguments are so weak, inaccurate and self-contradictory.

    Your comments indicate clearly that you've never been to Silverstone. Indeed, the "processional" comment almost implies that this year's race is the only one you've ever seen. I'm not saying you're necessarily ignorant of F1, just that you're not giving me much to go on that would imply any kind of actual knowledge.

    The Spanish argument is especially perverse. Spain has several boring tracks. Whoopee for Spain. I'd rather have one good one, although in fact there are several others. Brands is brilliant, but some fool granted planning permission for a housing estate within earshot.

    I like the "default" argument, if only because I can picture each shout of "De fault" echoing in the cavernous emptiness inside your skull. Default? There was nothing to indicate that Silverstone was bound to be granted the contract. There was no default position. And in any case, nobody in F1 other than CVC and Bernie ever wanted to move away from Silverstone. The "default" Belgian Grand Prix was welcomed back by true fans, as will be the "default" Canadian Grand Prix. Change is not automatically a good thing.

  • Comment number 14.

    Having experienced Silverstone on 4 occasions (twice in general admission and twice in a grandstand) I, personally, and very pleased the circuit has been saved.
    True, it's not the most modern place to be, but then it has character in abundance, and sometimes, it's not the glitz and glamour, but the pure, raw, motor-racing.
    Well done to all involved for saving the British Grand Prix. Finger-crossed, I'll be there to support it next year.

  • Comment number 15.

    Well, with 17 years, they should be able to plan improvements in stages. Aim to complete upgrade latest 2020 I'd have thought. But definitely try and scrub the place up a bit for 2012 - you never know, there might be a couple of hundred Olympic visitors who fancy a flying lap round an F1 circuit??

  • Comment number 16.

    @4 - Maybe now Silverstone has a long term contract (something they have been after for the last 10-15 years and failed to get) they will be able to get the finance in place to do the 'Bernie upgrades'. Silverstone has gone for years on short term deals (because Bernie has had a personal gripe with the BRDC) that have prevented it getting the funding it needs to do the complete overhaul that Bernie demanded it had to grant it a long term contract.

    Don't forget that Bernie wanted to sign a 1 year deal to give Donnington more time, then a 3 and 7 year deal were mooted... None of which would give the BRDC the security it needed to raise the finance.

    I agree that the track isn't the most exciting on the calender, but it has still produced many spectacular races over the years.... It should also be noted that one thing they have talked about is changing / improving the track layout, I just hope they stay away from Herman Tilke as his tracks are tending to be rather samey. It would be nice to see a different designer given a chance to bring something new to the table.

  • Comment number 17.

    Thank goodness common sence has prevailed,,
    Bernie should get his gong now

  • Comment number 18.

    No one who has stood at the end of the pit straight and watched an F1 car go round Copse Corner could be sad at this news!
    I just hope that not too many slow corners are added- there are few enough 'fast' circuits as it is.

  • Comment number 19.

    I dont like Silverstone but Im starting to get a bit more happy that Silverstone will finally redeveloped but why did it take Bernie's threat to give it to Donington for the BRDC to wake up?
    Shows how inept they were in thinking that Silverstone 'deserved' the race.
    But Hill needs to knock heads, you got the race back but watch your back, Bernie may sign 17 year contracts but he will want progress and if someone wants to buy the Track , the BRDC should really look at any offer if a good one that is.
    Its nice to have the British GP back but it needs major redevelopment and a track change, I hope we get both for 2010 onwards.

  • Comment number 20.

    The comments about Silverstone's infrastructure being embarrassing are way out of line - this isn't a multi-million pound state-run venture to gain exposure for Britain, it is a circuit and a race that has evolved over 70+ years, run by people who are fleeced by CVC and Ecclestone and have never been able to invest heavily whilst safe in the knowledge that the race will run in future years to make a profit. People seem to be looking at Abu Dhabi and Malaysia etc and thinking 'why can't we do that here', ignoring the basic economic truth. If the way to really modernise Silverstone is to bring in an international consortium of businesses (as happens all too frequently in the Premier League), or to ask the government to spend 500 million pounds, then something is very wrong with us.
    Putting aside cliched arguments about 'spirit' and 'heritage', cold financial sense states that the Brit GP pulls in the punters like Turkey or Bahrain cannot. That should be foremost in any promoter's mind.
    As for the discussion over whether Silverstone contributed to Donington's downfall, well they didnt go out of their way to help a rival who had pulled the rug out from under them. Neither would I.
    The biggest danger now is if Donington goes into disrepair. It has lost both F1 and Moto GP, while Silverstone has both. I'd prefer to see those big races at separate circuits, if only to prevent any further erosion of our Motorsport Heritage (oops, falling into cliches myself now). I would be great to see Donington at least back to its' former state, and another of the UK circuits up to international standards. We've got so many good circuits, plus a few great ones, if only the arabs would help us out like they do in Football....ok, now i've completely lost it!

  • Comment number 21.

    I'm glad that the British GP has been saved and for a long time, however it always annoys me when people go on about the facilities at Silverstone.
    OK there not great but to my mind from a spectators point of view neither are they at Monza, Spa and many of the other older tracks. If those complaining about Silverstone actually went to some of the older circuits as a standard member of Joe Public you would see.
    Monza gets me as the closest you can park is several miles way, then take a 10 min bus ride followed by a 20 mins walking through the park to get to the track, but then as the track is in a Royal park you have to expect things like this.

    No one has praised Silverstone for the improvements that have made over the recent years when money was tight and no long term contract was forthcomming, so give them a break and lets see what they can do now they have been given the security of a long term contract.

  • Comment number 22.

    @3 - I was unaware that the late Tom Weatcroft was involved in bringing F1 back to Donnington. As far as I was aware, the Weatcroft family had signed over management and licencing rights of the track to Simon Gillet and DVL, who then persued and signed the ill fated contract. Indeed, the plans for the GP were put into jepordy when the family took DVL to court over missed payments.

    I'm just sorry that Tom had to see a circuit, which he had bought, nurtured and turned into a great racing track, ruined by someone who saw an opportunity, and jumped in with both feet while not thinking.


    I'm glad the race is at Silverstone however. It should never have been taken from there, and the whole sorry mess should never have happened. I thought we learnt our lesson when Brands Hatch got the rights all those years ago.

  • Comment number 23.

    Excellent news. I'm fussy about my Formula One racing, but I would not say Silverstone creates boring F1 races, on the contrary, there have been great GPs there in the last ten years. 2008 was a classic, for example. Bring on the 2010 F1 season!

  • Comment number 24.

    FoxesofNuneaton wrote:

    "I dont like Silverstone but Im starting to get a bit more happy that Silverstone will finally redeveloped but why did it take Bernie's threat to give it to Donington for the BRDC to wake up?"

    I think that's backwards. It was Bernie's refusal to offer a long term contract that made it impossible to raise the kind of funding needed to make the improvements Bernie wanted. It's taken the Donnington disaster, and you have to feel sorry for the people who've put so much time into that project, to make Bernie break his own Catch 22.

  • Comment number 25.

    I cant believe some of the comments.

    I went to my first British GP in 1992 and my last in 2003, I plan to go again. I have also been to Brands Hatch, Donnington, Thruxton, and many more British tracks for Moto GP, touring cars, historic racing, british super bikes etc. My point is this none of those tracks have ever had the potential to become a GP track, not even Donnington, even though in 93 it hosted the famous European GP that Senna won.

    Silverstone deserves to have the British GP, the facilities are not as bad as some people on here are making out. I thought it was a joke when Donnington was announced to be hosting the British GP and I am not surprised it has not happened. Eeven with the money it needs it does not have enough space and the roads around the track are a joke. Silverstone is the best option, however I just hope they make the improvements they are promising, however sitting in a grandstand is not fun. I always enjoyed walking around to different parts of the track to get a different view etc all the years I have been for various events.

    I even had hospitality a few times but got out as soon as I could just to enjoy the atmosphere.

    The only problem I observed is how corporate everything was becoming and I am sure it is even worse now,a bit like Royal Ascot.

    Anyway great news for the British motorracing public and fans, the teams, the drivers, the local community. I like to think that Damon had a big part to play in this.

    By the way I know how important this is to the locals as I grow up with my mother running the green mann in just a few miles outside of the track. So to all of those complaining on here you do not know what you are talking about.

    Silverstone has it all, bring on next year, oh and I hope Hamilton and Button make it a boring season by winning all the races between them!! Ha!

    Sorry getting a bit carried away, I love this sport and my country and very loyal to Britain and Silverstone.

    I am sure I will get slated for this, I am also sure there are spelling errors and poor punctuation!!! Who cares I have made my feelings known!

  • Comment number 26.

    I would just like to say that I think Damon Hill really deserves a huge round of applause. He has remained calm, dignified and very professional all throughout this elongated Bernie-fest round of negotiations. 17 years!! That will bring the investors in for sure. As I occasionally live in cloud cuckoo land, I even think that one day our 'wonderful' government might even see fit to invest in the Grand Prix cash cow as well!! I would have preferred Donnington BUT hey!! w've got a British Grand Prix. Hallelujah!!
    Zebra

  • Comment number 27.

    @Hywel

    It's a fair point - what circuit indeed does produce good racing consistently? I can't name one that's a nailed on cert for a good race. History however doesn't help us here - F1 is about technological change as much as anything, and that change has over the years rendered circuits such as Silverstone to be pretty meaningless (not entirely - at least it has one good overtaking point) as races go. So drivers love it and its a good test of a car's performance - sure, wouldn't dispute it, wouldn't even try, but do those two things make for a great race? No. The are better circuits - none perfect, but better. There are worse also - don't get me wrong, I'm really not slating Silverstone in particular, just trying to make (probably labor by this stage) a point.

    @Cobbles

    Give it a rest - seriously. I didn't say (and neither did MGS from skimming his post again) that Silverstone doesn't produce great racing compared to new tracks! I just said that it doesn't produce great (or even particularly good) races. Can you honestly dispute it on a dry track? Okay, I obviously don't much like the track (I don't hate it either, which you seem to have disregarded but never mind that) but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop following the GP season because of it, so please don't hold a leaving party for me just yet.

    As for your last point about drivers love racing at Silverstone. Has anyone actually posted to the contrary? I have a feeling they all enjoy Monaco too - it doesn't mean they get good races there! I'm sure if someone was nuts enough to bring it back they'd all love the full length Nurburgring too. Actually, now there's an idea...

  • Comment number 28.

    Mr Benson,

    The financial picture you paint is worrying, especially when considering the difficulty of obtaining credit in the current market for anything, let alone extravagant projects. If Mr Phillips and Mr Hill et al have a solid business model, it might be better for them to reveal it, and divulge their 'creative' capital generating plans sooner rather than later to try and instill confidence in this project. I think F1 fans and potential investors or lenders need to have confidence in the feasibility of this project because the Donington failure has shown how difficult this will be, also there is no Government guarantee as you have made clear, and we should not forget that credit markets and the British economy remain troubled.

    I sincerly hope this will be a success.

  • Comment number 29.

    Great news! Best Christmas present I could wish for.......well may be tickets for it! haha

  • Comment number 30.

    Finally Silverstone got the GP Can't wait to see 13 teams race around in the 2010 F1 World Championship.

    Fellow bloggers.
    What are your predictions for 2010 F1 Drivers-Line-Up?

    Mine are:
    McLaren: Hamilton,Button
    Mercedes: Rosberg, Heidfeld
    Red Bull:: Vettel, Webber
    Ferrari: Alonso, Massa
    Williams: Barrichello, Hulkenburg
    Renault/Prodrive/LuxeomburgF1- Kubica, Di Grassi
    Force India: Sutil, Liuzzi
    Toro Rosso: Buemi, Alguersuari
    USF1: Andretti, Kobayashi
    VirginRacing: Glock, Carroll
    Campos: Senna, De La Rosa
    Lotus: Villeneuve, Trulli
    Sauber: Kovalainen, Parente

  • Comment number 31.

    "RIP F1 at Donington and Tom Wheetcroft.

    The F1 fraternity in the UK should be ashamed of the way that this great man was treated after all he did for the sport both nationally and internationally, let alone his services to King and Country during WWII."

    Eh?

    There was me thinking that Wheatcroft leased the track to a man called Simon Gillett. There was me also thinking that Whteacroft was one of the people to send Gillett's company into receivership by suing them for non-payment of rent. There was me thinking that Wheatcroft had nothing to do with it.

    Donington overbid and couldn't deliver. That's what happens in business. It isn't "treating Donington" disgracefully and, as for the "heritage" of Donington, the British GP has never been held there.

  • Comment number 32.

    I see a lot of people reporting on the short term positives of Silverstone getting the contract to host the British GP. Which lets be honest is great news for nest year. The title of this blog even calls it a 'relief'. Yet the whole situation sits uncomfortably for me as I have already stated. I would also like to add the following as to me it speaks greater volumes in the long term and for the image of Britain as a serious F1 nation.

    It's a damning indictment for British motorsport that Britain only has one circuit in the whole of the land that is capable of hosting a F1 race.

    With all it's history in F1 - with multiple past and current driver and team champions and team bases - you'd expect Britain to have more than one circuit. Even made worse by the fact that the only one isn't even that great a circuit.

    As I said before - then you take a country like Spain with far less F1 history than Britain. They only had their first WDC winner in 2005. Yet Spain has at least three circuits that can happily host an F1 race.

    What exactly does that say about Britain and it's F1 lineage? Surely a country as rich, powerful and populated as Britain can manage to stretch to more than one F1 complient circuit.

    I'm actually quite embarrassed. Embarrassed that there is only one and embarrassed that I can't even rate the only one as a really good F1 circuit.

    When the F1 world watches next years British GP they will be reporting on the fact that Silverstone was awarded the contract by default. Not beacuse it was the best track to hold an F1 circuit. But, first and foremost, it was the only track that could hold the race. That in itself will make me want to hang my head.

    What tears will then be shed if Silverstone can no longer hold a F1 GP? What if the BRDC fail to keep the 17 year contract going? Who are the fans going to blame then? I suppose Bernie as usual for some bizarre reasons. Fact is Bernie is a business man and the loan he has secured requires repayment. As such he will do his best to find the best deal. If a circuit can't meet those demands then tough. F1 is big business (not many sports are bigger business) not a charity. Why should Bernie act any differently for Britain if Britain can't pay its way?

    What ever way I look at the very poor situation Britain finds itself in with regard to hosting F1 I can't see any positives for the long term. Just a shame the new Donington didn't become a reality.

  • Comment number 33.

    My Good Self, I hope you don't actually work in business because you talk a load of wind my friend.

    Your 'default' argument has been fairly criticised and pulled apart more than once in this blog. After the errors and 'eyes too big for their belly' mistake that Donnington made their is no way that Bernie would go through the embarassment of that again with Silverstone if he felt that they cannot get investment so there would have been no British GP, if the BRDC had not negotiated what they call a 'fair' deal (ie yearly fee rise and length of contract) then they would not of signed, so again NO British GP. It is not a 'Default' the British GP was in serious risk!

    May I also remind you that circuits in the UK do not get government funding unlike their rivals apart from France who withdrew from F1 because their government can also not afford it. We are in a recession, UK investors at this time either do not want to invest or invest the money the BRDC need hence why the BRDC only would sign if a long contract was on offer. The major investment they require will not come in 2010 nor 2011. Once the countries economy has recovered then there will be demand fo investment, hence needing the long contract.

    Why you are 'embarassed' amusses me! Did you try and tie up the Donnington deal?? Britain is rich in history for more than just F1 unlike the other countries such as Spain you seem to be more concerned with. We have Moto GO, Touring Cars and many feeder series and privatier cups all of which have to have tracks which suited them. Donnington was always a bike and touring car track, now dissapointingly has neither as half the circuit does not exist.

    Without Silverstone there would be a lot of problems in F1 considering so many teams use it as their test track. Many of the F1 teams were also using their weight on Bernie to try and do something to keep Silverstone, why is that? Are they embarrassed that F1 is at Silverstone?

    The Emirates Stadium, Old Trafford, St James Park are all very impressive Football stadiums. Maybe we should tell the FA to stop using Wembley for England games cause they have always been played there!!

    There is no business logic or weight to you argument and you appear to have a large chip on your shoulder and do not understand the fundamentals to this sport.

    Silverstone is Iconic, people who like F1 will for years want to be part of that and say they have been and watched at the home of F1!

  • Comment number 34.

    Good old British trait.

    We've spent the best part of 18 months moaning that there may not be a British GP.

    It's only been announced 24 hours and we're moaning about it already!

    Congratulations everyone

  • Comment number 35.

    "a new track layout for the brand new MotoGP contract in 2010, which will also be used for the F1 grand prix"

    Very very worrying.

    The whole point of Silverstone is the flow of it. The fast sweeping curves..etc

    Granted, i'm sure they won't be so stupid as to get rid of the first 25% of the track, but i have an awful feeling they might chop up the brillant run down hanger straight and make alterations there.

    Look out, here comes Herman Tilke. 'New Hockenheim' Part 2 anyone?

    Other than that, great news that this Classic track is being kept.. but for how long in its current layout? (And is it still a classic track afterwards?)

  • Comment number 36.

    Cobbles

    Name all the bloggers on here who have criticised and pulled apart my default argument.

    The fact of the matter is that Silverstone is the only British circuit that can hold an F1 race.

    I'm sure that if there was more than one then the BRDC would not have sat on their thumbs all these years knowing that Bernie couldn't negotiate with anyone else. Once someone else did offer Bernie a better deal he was more than happy to accept knowing how poorly the BRDC has reacted to his requests in years past.

    Silverstone may have history just like Monaco does. But that doesn't avoid the fact that the majority of races held there are boring and processional. The circuit is bland and uninteresting. The British GP deserves better and it shouldn't be granted on the basis of it's the only one.

    Also, both of my previous comments have been based on how I see Silverstone and the BRDC. I am not having a pop at any other BBC Online member nor am I challenging their comments or opinions. I welcome the fact that people are rejoicing in the recent news. The world would be a very different place if everyone thought like me. But I have taken a short time to stand back and point out some negatives about Silverstone and the BRDC that I do not like. Other people have even stated similar opinions about the circuit. But I will not be trying to indoctrinate others, accusing them of speaking rubbish or attempting to belittle their F1 knowledge just because they hold a different opinion to me. Life is full of free choices and this is mine. I don't believe I have said anything unfactual either. So why do you feel the need to push your opinions on me. You even accused me of saying something I didn't say in your previous post which I do not appreciate at all. If you are doing that then I get the distinct impression that it doesn't matter what I say you have an opinion of me and will say what ever you want to get your point across. As such I appreciate your point of view on Silverstone and I will choose to agree to disagree with you.

  • Comment number 37.

    @zebra

    "I would just like to say that I think Damon Hill really deserves a huge round of applause. "

    Really though? Damon Hill was spouting vitriol towards Donington ever since it was announced a the host of the GP. He was relentless in every interview and sounded like a child who'd just thrown his toys out of the pram.

    Then when things started to turn in Silverstones favour he changed his tune to a "Oh they tried, I was rooting for them I really was!" in a bid to coax Bernie Ecclestone into his arms again.

    For the record I don't think Donington was really that ready for the BritishGP, the roads around it are utterly atrocious for one. Now it's just a half finished shell of a track that has lost the MotoGP AND the prospect to host the F1

    Simon Gillett has run it into the ground

  • Comment number 38.

    I feel sorry for the fans who have to fork out £115 for 'basic' entry & then another £100 once they are inside Silverstone for a seat where you can see more than the Helmets of the drivers.

    That said I am still glad we have a race in this country - incase someone is stupid enough to give me the money for a 'proper' ticket!

  • Comment number 39.

    My Good Self

    Yes Bernie Ecclestone is a businessman but a very shrewed one at that he has no morals and has no regard for wanting to help F1's financial struggles...I cast your mind back to the financial issues he caused with FOTA and the concorde agreement.

    I am always 'for' taking sport forwards and Bernie is kinda doing that with all the new circuits, but remember these circuits have no commercial rights, Bernie has them, so all Bernie is interested in is which track shines and glitzes enough to bring his deep pocket mates for a weekend out! I personally would like Bernie to invest some of the millions of cash he has taken into the circuits that have made him the billionaire he is, like the circuits that were very good at giving great racing but got tired and forgotten, ie Zandvoort/Holland, Suzuka/Japan, Estoril/Portugal and many more.

    For me Bernie has not done a lot for F1 but has just got richer, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, Singapore all of these are circuits that are there to help recognise their countries, not improve F1. On race day they hold between 40 - 50 thousand people, thats less than half of Silverstone. The Singapore GP is held at night so the real F1 following (Europe) can watch it, surely that is just an admission that Bernie is out there for the corporate cash not the fans?!

    Silverstone as a circuit is unpredictable, yes when dry it can be as average as the other circuits, but with our Great British weather there is always caution at race weekends, and on a technical note...the newer circuits have a lot more harsh braking zones which promotes this procession racing and does not encourage drivers to get too close to each other, that to me as an amateur race driver is boring.

    At the end of the day we both want the same thing...F1 to go forward. But I don't believe Silverstone or the BRDC should take the blame, Bernies ruthlesness has always caused and always will cause problems for F1 and the longer he is involved there is always going to be a big drama around the corner.

    So, I will close on...wouldn't it be nice if an ex-driver or team boss who lives for the SPORT, take over from Bernie?

  • Comment number 40.

    #35 Swerve1
    "a new track layout for the brand new MotoGP contract in 2010, which will also be used for the F1 grand prix"

    Very very worrying.

    The whole point of Silverstone is the flow of it. The fast sweeping curves..etc

    Granted, i'm sure they won't be so stupid as to get rid of the first 25% of the track, but i have an awful feeling they might chop up the brillant run down hanger straight and make alterations there."

    If you look on autosport.com theres a map of the proposed new circuit. Abbey becomes a right-left instead of a left-right, leading the cars backwards down the old "international straight" of the short circuit, to a complex at the end, then back up the "national straight" to brooklands and luffield. And Club becomes 2 corners instead of 1 long one. Other than that, all is the same, all we lose is Bridge and Priory, which are being kept in place anyway.

  • Comment number 41.

    The problem with having fast circuits is the cars are going too fast for the cameras to focus on the sponsorship.

    All the new shiny Tilke tracks have plenty of slow corners giving the cameras plenty of time to zoom in on company logos.

    With Bernie it has always been about money and not about racing! Keep silverstone the fast flowing track that we know and love.

  • Comment number 42.

    Well I'm glad we kept the British Grand Prix but would have preferred it to have moved from Silverstone. I actually enjoyed it when it was at Brands Hatch. I know it is way too small these days for F1 but it always had good racing. The biggest fan base was at Brands Hatch whilst Superbikes were racing around in the Carl Fogherty days getting well over 130,000 on race days.

    Lets hope the BRDC do something about the track and facilities as now they have no excuses!!

    Oh by the way can I just mention that even though everyone has gone on about a 17 year contract either side can break it after 10 years so the BRDC better hurry up and improve things. F1 is a business which is a sport but if it doesn't make money at the British Grand Prix then it doesn't deserve to stay here.

    People keep going on about F1 history and the British Grand Prix but who actually cares if the track and facilities are not up to scratch. Stop blaming Bernie or F1 Management and start looking at why these things weren't started bit by bit or the last 10 years or so. Silverstone must be making plenty of money when staging these events and if they don't prioritise things properly then blame the owners of the track and management.

    The Government has improved the road system around there and the motorways so people saying no government money has gone into Silverstone are blatantly wrong.

  • Comment number 43.

    I, for one, thought it was a great shame that Donington collapsed, because it looked like it was going to be a cracking track! It is good to see it at Silverstone again, but I can't pretend to claim it's my favourite race. Then again it certainly isn't the worst track out there!

    I would definitely start by removing Singapore and I wasn't impressed by Abu Dhabi either.

  • Comment number 44.

    Singapore and Abu Dhabi are not good race circuits, cannot handle the sheer power of an F1 car, which is why there is little overtaking, the only carefully designed modern F1 track for me is Istanbul, very nice track with the fast flowing turns and straights with the odd braking zones...well designed.

    Oh, and it was the BRDC who invested the money into the local council for the infrastructure around Silverstone to be improved, they did it at the same time they bought the land off the local farmers to increase the parking....not the Government!!!

  • Comment number 45.

    We all love a good moan don't we - moaning is just part of British life's rich tapestry and DNA.
    It was probably William the Conqueror who brought over the modern moan to these shores when he realised how bad the weather was here after shooting Harold (who was not known as a moaner) through the eye in 1066.
    The Normans are really Northern French remember, and when did you ever see a happy go lucky Frenchman at that? Having no French Grand Prix is testament to its people's highly sophisticated cantankerous,obstinate and downright moody behaviour.
    When this country had the chance to get rid of the grumbles with a sprinkling of Spanish sunshine, it was Elizabeth, Queen of the Moaning Minnies, who moaned the Armada out of sight in 1588 ...Empire building and post industrial monopolization was built on a right royal moan, with Disraeli and Gladstone gassing constantly at Queen Victoria while the railroads were built and the business of trade exploded...

    anyway - my point on the matter is this...
    stop moaning - The British Grand Prix has been secured for at least 17 years - for without it the seeds of unraveling the monopoly this country has in housing and developing the future of Formula 1 would have been sown.
    Maybe it's too late.
    Without a British Grand Prix,coupled with the way the global markets, integration and proliferation operate, what would be the likelihood of major teams staying here within the 17 years the BRDC has secured to run Formula 1 at Silverstone?
    LOtus will probably move all its operations to Malaysia...Maybe Williams and MacLaren might stay in that time, but if you told me 17 years ago that British Steel would go to pop and Roll-Royce would be bought out by the Germans I would have no hesitation in calling in the men in white coats...
    This deal runs far far deeper than the petulance of Bernie and the BRDC. Anything can happen in 17 years, and I don't believe this Shakespearian Tragicomedy has run its course just yet...

  • Comment number 46.

    why are people even discussing the pros and cons of the grand prix at silverstone. people are reading are reading too deep into this! there are no real negatives for the majority so will one or two of the bloggers stop being grumpy for grumpy's sake.

    @f1fantic

    good driver predictions but i think kovalainen will end up at the renault team. i also have no idea who the new drivers will drive for. most of the big drivers have seats confirmed and the rest will be announced soon, hopefully......

  • Comment number 47.

    I can't say silverstone is my favorite circuit, it doesn't have at least one really good corner or a good slow section and i prefer that to a fast flowing track. but that is just a personal thing and the current track is well designed for full out racing.
    have you seen the plans for the new track? it looks a little bit like abu dabi with the back straight and i like it.

  • Comment number 48.


    I have been there in the 50! with the mud the traffic, and the long delays in getting and out and according to the Express 200,000 others, and it was great...
    Ascari , Fangio, and all the other drivers.
    The BRM The ERAs The Massers and all the other wonderful cars.
    Come on Brits lets get behind Damion and his team and make it the greatest again

  • Comment number 49.

    In the past couple of years I've been to the British GP, the Canadian GP and the Bahrain GP, so i feel qualified to comment on the old and the new tracks. Without any shadow of a doubt the best facilities were in Bahrain. The view I had of the cars in Bahrain was magnificent, right by the braking point for turn one. At Silverstone and Montreal these facilities were not as good, and unfortunately I wasn't at the track early enough to get the best viewing spots. But asked which days I enjoyed more, I would say without hesitation Silverstone and Montreal, because they have in abundance what all the money in the Middle East can't buy and that is character, atmosphere and an enthusiastic fanbase. Cliché, I know, but I make no apology for saying it.
    Bahrain was soulless and flat. Most of the fans in Bahrain were Europeans anyway; real fans who'd follow F1 to whichever random outpost Bernie sends it to next. To me it was always criminal, not that new events are being added to the calendar, but that they are being added at the expense of tracks that are easily accesible to long standing, true fans. Britain, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium should all have GPs because there will always be a fanbase there.
    So I'm delighted Silverstone will keep its GP. Yes, we'll park in the mud, queue for ages for the toilets and might not be able to see the whole track, but 200,000 people a year love it regardless.

  • Comment number 50.

    great news, but it does clash with world cup! HA HA

    ill be watching F1!

    p.s - can you please add stories from "www.f1crazy.moonfruit.com" (F1CRAZY) into the gossip column! Thanks

  • Comment number 51.

    I wasn't actually going to make a comment on the news that Silverstone has got the British GP for another 17years because I thought my views would be castigated. However having read down the comments, it is clear that there is considerable disappointment to the news. Silverstone is a flat, boring uninspiring circuit run by similarly minded people. To class it in the same list as Spa, Monaco and Monza is an insult to those three tracks. I can only presume Bernie has given it a contract for that amount for with the greatest respect he is in advanced years and will probably not be around to watch the tedious boredom of 17 gps. Britain has no absolute right to a gp. History counts for nothing and if a place is really not up to scratch, it should be axed. I stopped going to the British GP years ago because it was held at Silverstone. I am fortunate to have been to 55 grand prix in my time but in the last 30 I have attended, all have been outside the UK. Might I suggest that if the powers that be are really passionate about redeveloping Silversotne, it should either be returned to arable land or have affordable houses built on it. There are now another 17 grand prix events that I will not be attending. I see under this section the headline "Relief all round as silverstone secures British GP." Clearly judging by the comments on this blog, that just is not true.

  • Comment number 52.

    Well I am relieved. I wasn't seriously concerned as to where the race was held as long as there was a British Grand Prix. Most of the teams are based here, the last two World champions are from here and yet some people are nitpicky enough for there not to be a 2010 British Grand Prix.

  • Comment number 53.

    I've been attending the British GP at Silverstone since 1994 and have witnessed the improvements the circuit has had since then. Not only are there more toilets and entertainment etc, access and egress has improved - partially due to the re-development of the A43. The residents of Silverstone (as one has already stated on this thread) must be tremondously relieved as the revenue generated by campers and revellers must be significant and would have been felt in the local economy should it have gone to Donington. As a volunteer MSA official, I get free entry, a programme, an allowance for meals/drink and a guest pass for events including the GP (along with sore feet, lack of sleep and a cold) but it still grinds that a fair percentage of attendees at the GP are there on a freebie and wouldn't be there otherwise. The fee paying public do not on the face of it, appear to get a great deal for their hard earned cash. However, I have to say that I do see some of these guys spend all day at the bar and never even watch the race.
    You also cannot compare circuits due to their geographical locations. Spa is absolutley superb but so would Silverstone if it were in Northumberland....

  • Comment number 54.

    Simon Gillett turned Donnington into the nothing it is now. If the evil BRDC had done what some are saying and ploughed in money to turn it into motorsport heaven, would Silverstone have MotoGP and F1 now? No, it would have neither and quite possibly be as Donnington is now. How great would that be for motorsport in this country. Donnington and Brands are too far behind to have a chance in gaining international motorsport events in the leagues of F1 and MotoGP.

    It is great we have a stadium like Wembley. The old place place looked ok on tv, spectators weren't over the moon at the facilities, the players appreciated the history of playing there(pretty much the same can be said of Silverstone). What is it used for...football, bit of rugby, the odd concert hmmm... Alot of money for a National Stadium for a sport (football) that has billionaire owers, multi million pound sponsors etc. Wasn't it Government funded? Hundreds of milions of pounds put into a stadium used almost entirely for kicking and throwing a bag of air around. The BRDC has to, with the motorsport industry, get into meaningful negotiations with the government to gain even a small amount of money to help keep at least one place in the country fit to hold motorsport events.

    None of us will ever be in the fortunate position of running the BRDC to know how easy or how hard it is to manage something like they do. However, they have to do more, alot more than they have, over the next few years to win back peoples faith.

    I am delighted that Silverstone is to retain F1 for what could be the next 17 years. I am even more delighted that we will have Rossi, Stoner and the nutter Lorenzo flying round the circuit from next year too. I am trying to work out where Simoncelli is going to highside!
    Lets wait and see what Silverstone actually do before we condemn the place anymore. We haven't got the luxury of the Eifle mountains or mediterranean harbour to race around. We have Silverstone, that's it.

    The thing we should be screaming about are the rules. Change those to make the racing better and we would all be happy sitting on a carrier bag in the rain watching the cars battle. I certainly don't want to spend my time being distracted by a multi coloured hotel flashing like a tart and ignoring the fact not many cars are overtaking each other, but hey, i'm sat in a nice new grandstand in a foriegn country so why am I complaining.

    Oh, I forgot, Rockingham.....but then so does everyone else.

  • Comment number 55.

    @Phil: I can only imagine you have never actually been to Silverstone. The atmosphere of circa 100,000 race FANS doesnt compare with any other Grand Prixs apart from possibly Monza.

    The fans get very close to the cars and, due to the flat airfield nature, from some places you actually get to see each car for ten seconds or more... as opposed to about thee seconds at some circuits.

    The drivers love the circuit. Copse is one of the most amazing corners on any race track anywhere. The flat out change of direction is amazing to drive and almost as amazing to watch. The Maggots and Beckets combination is one of the few places in the world where an F1 driver can throw a car from side to side whilst accelerating onto the Hangar straight.

    I am a fan of Stow, Bridge, the complex etc but I am also excited by the new layout.

    Simon Gillet and his team have only themselves to blame for their complete ostrich in the sand approach to the last 18 months. They, more than anyone, have shown a complete lack of respect to Tom Wheatcroft and to the British Motor Racing Fan.

    I cannot wait to see Button racing Hamilton in McLarens next July.

  • Comment number 56.

    Ref the demise of Donington, I think that Bernie Eccls, led the leaseholders of Donington by the nose, into this impossible position knowing it would be a disaster. Guess who will buy, whats left

  • Comment number 57.

    Could not agree with you more on the British GP. On November 30, I wrote in my blog that "What Bernie Ecclestone fails to grasp is that F1 needs Silverstone. One reason that Arab emirates and Asian nation-states pay top dollar to host an F1 race is that it brings with it echoes of past glory...In fact, any contract with Ecclestone should be made to retain four core races: Spa, Silverstone, Monaco, and Monza." (http://wp.me/pIux9-1O)

  • Comment number 58.

    great to hear that silverstone has finally got its deal! ive been there ten times and am an avid fan.its one of the best tracks in the world,the drivers love it!It doesnt get the best weather but that doesnt stop thousands of fans going each year and packing the grandstands . it makes me mad when i see these super stands around the world with just a few people in them!looking forward to 2010 and beyond to cheer on our two champions on their home track !!!

  • Comment number 59.

    Wow !!
    you guys can sure bitch. Its great there will be a UK GP, I might even make it this year.
    Last time i tried the tickets were sold out when I got to the UK.
    some comments...
    The tickets are on sale now...
    The Singapore night race is a great idea, its hot and very humid during the day, I lived there for over 2 years.
    The Malaysian track is great, from some spots you can view half the circuit !!! ( but its also hot and humid.)
    Street circuits suck !! Indy wasn't much better.



  • Comment number 60.

    Silverstone might not be an good track 4 spectators like brands hatch. But it has had some memorable GP's. Mansell in 86 and 92 and other years! Jonhy Herbut! when damon took out shumi! No overtaking well Barachello (apologies my spelling is no good)proved that wrong on a couple of time along with other drivers!

    Anywaythe brittish GP is ment to be protected along with moncao,monza, and I think there is another in the list! The teams and sponsors expect these GP. Loose these GPs and u would loose a lot of these people that pump money into the sport!
    And those of u bitching about the facilities of silverstone all I can say to u is BRAZIL.NO decent toilets or any thing! The teams dont even take the hospitality units there anymore because of there customs nicking there hdtv and other goods that they have and that came from a Williams employee!!!
    Bernie is out of order with what he wnts to charge to host it, but he does have a point that the goverment will pump billions into the rubbish olympics but wont help save the GP when most of the grid is brittish Empoyees who specilise in there field and with out the GP the expertise will probley leave!!
    But its not just the track that makes a GP its the Grandstands! and a full to bursting point silverstone on race day is one of the best places in the world 2 be (EXCEPT MONACO).
    Well 2 another 17 years of the Brittish GP and many More Mansells, Hurbuts, jensons and hamiltons and DC's! Live long and prosper!!!

 

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