F1: Donington throws its hat back into the Formula One ring
By Andy Darley
Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
Wanted: people of vision to keep the dream of Formula One at Donington Park alive and bring a race to the ailing circuit in 2011.
That’s the appeal made today by Nigel Price, one of the partners at corporate recovery specialists Begbies Traynor which has been appointed to handle the affairs of Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd after it went into administration.
He said: “This need not be the end of Formula One racing at Donington. We are certainly hopeful that a 2011 Grand Prix could take place at the site.
“We are looking for a purchaser for the business and the potential opportunity to bring Formula One to this part of the Midlands by funding the work that needs to be carried out to the circuit.
“It still remains a fantastic location – next to an airport and main motorway connections. It needs people of vision to get the dream to the starting grid and we would be very interested in talking to interested parties.”
On the face of it, it’s difficult to take Price’s statement terribly seriously. It’s his job to get the best possible value from the company’s assets, in order to get some sort of return for its creditors.
Talking them up to their maximum is clearly part of that task and, for any administrator, the best option is to sell a business as a going concern rather than to break it up.
The idea that Formula One could come to call in 2011 seems vastly over-optimistic – just as the accompanying statement that “work has already begun to develop the circuit to Formula One Grand Prix standard” rather ignores the fiasco that Simon Gillett’s scheme had become by the end.
But it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that it could happen.
Cannily, Price does not specifically say he’s chasing the 2011 British Grand Prix – he leaves the door open for the circuit to hold a second UK race if the new McLaren pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button can deliver a third consecutive drivers’ title to this country.
Both Spain and Germany hosted a European Grand Prix on the back of producing a world champion and, although Bernie Ecclestone is busy moving races out of Europe and into the world’s emerging economies, the logic for doing the same in Britain is sound.
Furthermore, there is still no sign of an agreement between Ecclestone and Silverstone to hold the British Grand Prix, either next year or in any subsequent year. If the two parties fail to strike a deal, 2010 is off – and so are all bets for 2011.
At Brits on Pole, we have long counselled keeping a close eye on what role is played by Jayne McGivern, the expert in large-scale sports developments brought in by Gillett to help his plans.
Another of her specialities is stepping in to rescue failing projects. Admittedly her prior experience in this related to housing and holiday schemes, but what better opportunity than Donington for her to dip into her contact book and start making phone calls.
Nigel Price says Donington needs people of vision – but its problem is that, up until now, the circuit’s management has been long on vision and short on solid achievement.
Let us hope that whoever answers the call has a solid grounding in making difficult projects work and in raising real, as opposed to phantom, funding.