Bernie Ecclestone has told British F1 fans that not even a home champion will be enough to save their grand prix in 2010 should Donington Park fail to meet its obligation to stage the event.
The Formula One supremo, speaking to The Times following Lewis Hamilton’s world championship win, reiterated that there was no room for doubt – as far as the British Grand Prix goes, it’s Donington or bust after next year.
He said: “Even if Lewis is world champion, we will simply say we will get on with the calendar and that England won’t be included.”
The east Midlands circuit will become the official home of the race in little more eighteen months’ time – and is still waiting to receive planning permission for a £100 million redevelopment to bring its facilities up to the necessary standard.
The global economic downturn is a new cause for concern. On the eve of the Brazilian Grand Prix a little-reported story broke telling how Jonathan Palmer was temporarily shelving a £15 million development at Snetterton, despite having the go-ahead from planners.
He said the current economic circumstances meant “there’s going to be some caution before we do start building and we’d be fools not to.”
Ecclestone’s blunt rejection of any possible back-up plan if Donington doesn’t make it in time follows the disappearance of two other well-established races from the 2009 schedule.
The Canadian Grand Prix was dropped without explanation, to the mystification of the organisers and the fury of the teams, who are particularly keen to promote themselves in north America.
And the FIA has called for an enquiry after the French Grand Prix was cancelled, just eight days after the Canadian announcement, after the French Motorsports Federation (FFSA) withdrew its financing.
This means the 2009 calendar currently features 17 races instead of the expected 19.