Formula 1: Donington secures British Grand Prix in 10 Year Deal

Ben AutySenior Writer IJuly 4, 2008

I would have had this article up on the site about 4 hours ago but my internet at work has been playing up and I havent been able to get access to the site unfortunately. So the "Finger" isnt exactly on "The Pulse" right now, my apologies but I am going to post this anyway because why waste a good article.


Just recently I wrote an article on 60 years of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, its 60 and out because this morning it has been announced that Donington Parkhas won the contract for a 10 year deal to host the British Grand Prix until 2020.


Joint CEO’s Simon Gillet and Lee Gill made the following statement:


“We are naturally delighted and extremely proud to have acquired the rights to bring Formula One back to Donington Parkfrom 2010. At the beginning of last year when we acquired the circuit and its substantial lands, we made clear our commitment towards realising the full potential of the Park by making the necessary investments in current and future events that will see Donington revitalised ensuring its leading position as one of the most iconic racing circuits in the world. To that end, we have now entered a new and exciting chapter in the development of the Park and one that will bring significant investment and regional development while securing the future of one of the most important and significant sporting events in Britain.”


“Donington Ventures Leisure Limited has worked closely with the local and national authorities in consideration of the planning requirements that are necessary to provide a first class facility for the hosting of F1 in 2010. The details of this and the Donington Park master plan that outlines a 5 year investment programme of some £100m, will be provided at a future date.”


“The investment will be led by a private investor who is also a large shareholder.”


“Today’s signing of the contract with Formula One Management Limited brings to an end a period of commercial negotiations, none of which would have been possible without the support of Mr Ecclestone and FOM. However, Donington Ventures are still engaged in negotiations with other important third parties that should be concluded in a matter of days. Only when this is done, will they release further information to the media.”


Bernie Ecclestone and The British Racing Drivers Club had been in talks to secure the future of the British Grand Prix for a period of time now but Bernie and the BRDC have never seen eye to eye on these matters. A lot of people had seen a breakdown coming from a mile off and were already bracing for a shock, myself included and here it is on the weekend of the British GP, the bomb has been dropped.


Bernie Ecclestone said the following in response to today’s decision:


“We wanted a world class venue for F1 in Britain, something that the teams and fans could be proud of, Donington's development plans will give us exactly that, a venue to put British motor sport back on the map.”


Ecclestone then went on to say that he was disappointed that the British Government had not intervened to help Silverstone to get up to the standards required to maintain the British GP at the site by saying the following:


“I am sorry that we could not have helped Silverstone to raise the money to carry out the circuit improvements and run F1, I believe that the government should have supported them which would have cost probably less than 0.002% of the government's commitment for the Olympic Games.”


So the British Grand Prix moves to Donington Parkwhere the GP hasn’t been held there since 1993 when Ayrton Senna won a historic wet weather race. It was then known as the European GP.


Times where very different back in 1993 and a lot has changed in the sport since then, so how will that affect the circuit? Well it’s going to have to make some pretty drastic changes to get up to speed with what Ecclestone will expect.


I try to remain neutral in stories like this but I am VERY passionate about my home GP and I think that it is wrong to be moving to Donington just because Mr. Ecclestone doesn't get on with The BRDC very well.


It is a well known fact that Silverstone’s facilities although often critisised by Bernie Ecclestone are of a very high standard and are certainly of a higher standard than that of Donington’s. Silverstone is good to go and it has been proven that the GP can be held there for the future provided that changes are to be made.


Our friend Max Mosley had a few things to say on this matter and he was quoted the following:


“We understand that the development program planned for Donington will achieve the very high standards we and FOM expect from a modern F1 circuit. Finally, British Formula One fans will get the Grand Prix venue they deserve.”


Donington Parkwill need a lot more development than Silverstone will to host the British GP. Donington will initially need the track lengthening and widening. All facilities including pit lane facilities will need a huge overhaul and finally, do you think the traffic problem will be better than Silverstone?


You would be very wrong, Donington Parkcurrently hosts Moto GP and at last months race spectators where stranded in the car park for hours after the race. The venue of the track is very convenient but it’s actually entering and leaving the track that proves to be the problem.


So are we any better off having the British GP at Donington or is it going to be just another catastrophe of a decision by Bernie Ecclestone who continues with his vision of  the future of the sport that seems to annoy everyone else around him, oh well, as long as he is happy pulling the strings.


Let’s compare the two tracks and you can make your own informed decision on where the British GP should rightly be held. I want you; the British citizen, he who sits with his mug of tea and the morning paper with his biscuits for dunking make the call.


Circuit Length

Silverstone – 5.141km (3.194m)

Donington – 4.023km (2.500m)



Silverstone – 17

Donington – 12


Lap Time (GP Circuit) Record

Silverstone – 1:18:739 (M Schumacher, Ferrari)

Donington – 1:18:029 (A Senna, McLaren)


Years in Formula 1

Silverstone – 60 Years (43 Grand Prix)

Donington – 1 Year (1 Grand Prix) (Which incidentally wasn’t the British Grand Prix but the European GP)


Just goes to show in my opinion that Silverstone is tried and tested and should be the track where the money is spent, not Donington, I am sure that this will cause MASSIVE ripples throughout the British Formula 1 fans. Bernie Ecclestone, brace yourself my friend, I believe you are in for a rough old ride, what do you guys think?


Ben, Over and Out!