Formula 1: The Battle of Britain

Ben AutySenior Writer IJuly 12, 2008

The British Grand Prix was a wet affair as usual. It was wet, stormy, windy, oh, and did I mention wet? Things could only get better right?

Wrong...A certain gentleman called Simon Gillet thought he would help the cause even further on race weekend, raining on the parade by stealing the British Grand Prix from under the nose of the BRDC as they where focused fully on the matters in hand.

So the deal is done: Donington Park will hold the British Grand Prix as of 2010. The only problem is that there seem to be a lot of spanners being thrown into the works already.

Will the track be ready in time?

  • Length
  • Width
  • Facilities
  • Pit Complex
  • Safety
  • Planning Permission

Will the track be up to standard?

  • Access for safety cars
  • Run offs
  • Gravel traps
  • Tyre walls
  • Pit complex
  • Spectator Facilities

What will the traffic be like on race day?

  • At the Moto GP this year, it was shocking, people suggest it won’t be any better than Silverstone, even after improvements considering it’s a single-lane carriageway connecting the track to the M1.

Will Donington Park get an investor?

  • The CEO’s are pretty adamant that there is a scheme in place, but no magic fairy godmother with a big fat cheque has come along just yet. Details will be released soon of key companies with involvements.

With all these questions before the circuit has barely had time to get over its celebration hangover, a huge shadow has already been cast over the whole situation, and Donington has a lot of making up to do.

Naturally the media picked up on this and the anti-Donington bandwagon is starting to gather pace. It’s going to be an uphill struggle, can they do it? You decide.

Bernie was asked if the British GP return to Silverstone in 2010, should Donington not be ready to facilitate F1 descending on its tarmac. The reply wasn’t good:

Bernie Ecclestone (Wee Man), We won’t come back, we’re in the same situation as we were before Donington came into the deal. I am sure they will be ready but, if not, we will sign with another country. There won’t be a British Grand Prix. Pure and simple.”

So it seems as though there is no way back for Silverstone in Bernie’s magical world of money. Yet, Silverstone is going ahead with its revamp anyway.

The purpose of my article is going to be to promote the two tracks and let you make-up your own mind, we need to ensure that awareness is very high on these matters, as we cannot afford not to have a British Grand Prix.

So if it comes down to it, we must have the facts to hand and then we do everything within our power to ensure that the British Grand Prix never dies, whether it is at Donington or Silverstone because if it comes to it, I will take anything.

Look at the amount of drivers from the UK, drivers who are living in the UK, and drivers who plied their trade here in the UK. What about the teams based in the UK, the team principles based in the UK, or the team principles who reside in the UK...It would be a farce not to have a GP in GREAT Britain, we are the centre of the world and have a massive F1 history. Bloody hell, Bernie is even British himself, turncoat!

So down to the nitty gritty; let’s talk number and figures and see how our tracks compare.


Silverstone is the original, and best, in many true fans' eyes. It's the Home of British Motorsport. You know the history, I don’t need to tell you all again. If you want to know, you can check out my article that details “60 Years of F1 at Silverstone”. You can find it on my profile.

Major infrastructure improvements are to take place, and are to be ran with local authorities to improve access to and from the site on busy race days where an excess of 100,000 fans will be entering and leaving at any given time.

By foot, by car, by helicopter, Silverstone is a logistical nightmare as it is now, but this will be reviewed and improved upon greatly, especially benefiting the local community.

A new pit and paddock complex was GRANTED, planning permission, which would move the pit and paddock from the current location round between ‘Club’ and ‘Abbey’. Included within this new complex will be new garages, a race control centre, a media centre, a VIP and hospitality spectator zone, and a primary paddock.

This would mean a reconfiguration to the track to enable pit entry and exit, plus a regeneration of the ‘Club’ and ‘Abbey’ corners. This is all tied in with a 10-year scheme which will see the following introduced over the period of the decade:

  • Manufacturer Test Centre
  • Business Park
  • Extreme Sport and Leisure Complex
  • 2 Hotels
  • University Campus
  • Welcome Centre
  • New properties on site and surrounding area.

So, with all that taken into consideration, the project, all in, will develop without any interruptions to the current day-to-day running of the track and any events that may be occurring on track. The whole project is spanning over a 10-year period, which means that come the end of the Donington contract, Silverstone will probably be the best circuit not only in Britain, but in the world. It’s going to be the complete package.

Donington Park

Donington Park has been historically a Moto GP track and a Touring Car track, it has hosted one Formula One race in the past, but it’s now got 10 future races to host, so these boys need to pull their fingers out and fast.

The doubters are mounting up high, and it’s now a case of proving a point. So what do we have to look forward to?

Simon Gillet has announced that the track will be making some big changes.

The track right now currently sits with 12 turns on the route. Famous points on the circuit are:

  • Redgate
  • Craner Curves
  • Old Hairpin
  • Starkeys Bridge
  • McLeans
  • Coppice
  • Starkeys Straight
  • The Esses
  • Melbourne Hairpin
  • Goddards

Gillet wants to include a half-mile infield loop from Melbourne.

Gillet was quoted as saying: Off the Melbourne loop, instead of going around Goddard’s corner and 180-degrees onto the start/finish straight, you’ll go straight on and do a half-mile loop before going back onto the start/finish straight”

There is also speculation of removing the Esses chicane on the back straight to create a longer run to the Melbourne hairpin.

The current pit and paddock complex is by far and away too short and cramped to accommodate the F1 circus and all of its trucks, equipment, computers, and everything else that comes with it. Don’t forget that McLaren has to set up the mobile technology centre, which I think might actually be bigger than my house.

The pit / paddock complex will be moved inside the back straight on the run down to Melbourne.

On to logistics: The circuit is currently connected to the M1 by a single-lane road. This year’s Moto GP showed just how much of a flaw this system is. Moto GP is currently going through a boom in the UK, not dissimilar to the F1 situation: We have Lewis Hamilton and they have James Toseland. Granted, our boy is doing better than theirs, but it just goes to show what the circuit will be like under heavy traffic. Not good.

The thing is though, the plans have massive hurdles to overcome first. How about the small matter of A) Funding, and B) Planning Permission. Those are BIG hurdles to overcome in this country, and even McLaren had to build their technology centre two floors underground because of height restrictions. I think the hard part is just about to begin, so the clock is ticking.

Now, while the plans don’t seem as big as Silverstone’s do right now, don’t forget that there will no doubt be more to be announced in the not-too-distant future, but I still personally think that Silverstone have got it right, and it is still going to be the place for the British Grand Prix in the future, no matter what Bernie the little hairy-toed monster thinks.


Time to make your mind up people. You have the evidence, you can use your heart and your head on this one, but either way, we must promote just what we have to offer here in the UK because we cannot lose our GP...EVER!

So come on Donington, lead the way for us, make this happen, a LOT is resting on your shoulders right now. If you get this right and keep the GP here for the duration of your contract, then I am pretty sure that Bernie won’t want to go abroad like an expensive call centre would. He will keep it homegrown and maybe even let Silverstone and Donington Park alternate. How fantastic would that be?

The best we could hope for is two GPs after the contract expires. I believe it may have been Ryan, Ste Stones and myself who where discussing this, and if we are lucky enough for Lewis to win the Championship this year, then what better way to celebrate than by having Donington Park as the European GP and Silverstone as the British. Spain has two GPs right now, so why can’t we?

What are your thoughts on this guys? Comments please, let’s have a debate.

Oh, and of course don’t forget, let’s have some stars on the article please people, it’s good to get into practice of giving a star rating to every article you read, and if you think it’s good enough, maybe even a ‘Pick of the Day’.

Ben, Over and Out!


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