F1: Is British GP safe even if Donington does deliver?

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSaturday, March 14th, 2009

 
 

Bernie Ecclestone has appeared to cast doubt over the future of the British Grand Prix even if Donington Park delivers on its promise to have a F1-worthy track ready by next summer.

In The Guardian today he talked of his plans to introduce a fixed grand prix calendar of 20 dates and said that there were already more races than dates thanks to additions in South Korea, already cleared for 2010, and in India in 2011.

He added: “We haven’t got a spare date. We’re in trouble. We need a date. We’re going to be in trouble if we do have Donington.”

He went on to say that European races that are axed from the calendar to make room for new races cannot expect to be reinstated.

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This is in direct contradiction to recent remarks from FIA president Max Mosley at a lunch for journalists when he said that his organisation had a remit to protect the six “classic” races that had been on the F1 calendar from the beginning – Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Monaco.

But he did take pains to point out that the FIA did not have the authority to force Ecclestone to accept an unsatisfactory commercial agreement to ensure a race was run.

Ecclestone’s statement should also be viewed in light of the fact that he has signed a 10-year contract with Donington Park which is presumably legally binding. However it will do nothing to raise investor confidence in the project.

He conceded that Donington Park was doing “a good job” on its redevelopment but stated again that under no circumstances would the race be allowed to return to Silverstone if the track cannot be certified to FIA standards in time.

He said: “We left there because I’m trying to improve facilities throughout the world and when I get people to build new circuits to the standard which we’re trying to reach, how can we got back to Silverstone?

“I negotiated a deal for them many years ago to give them enough money to build what we wanted. They didn’t build it.”

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