Silverstone’s management has been given the go-ahead to negotiate with potential investors in a move that could see the circuit regain the rights to stage the British Grand Prix.
The Northamptonshire venue is owned by the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) and its members have been asked to authorise the organisation’s board to consider offers for investment “in Silverstone and its core land” at an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) held on Tuesday.
This would open the door for Silverstone to redevelop the circuit’s infrastructure along the lines demanded by Formula One promoter Bernie Ecclestone – with planning permission already in place for much of the necessary work.
Reports have already surfaced that Silverstone’s management might have asked for the authorisation because it already had a deal on the table, possibly with a Middle Eastern investment fund.
The contract to stage the race for the next 17 years is currently held by Leicestershire’s Donington Park – but must satisfy Ecclestone as to the financial soundness of its redevelopment plans by the end of September. It has recently said it is unable to discuss details of its financial situation.
Ecclestone has also said that the race will return to Silverstone if Donington is unable to honour its contract. The fact that Silverstone is visibly proceeding with investment plans while it continues to remain silent cannot help but damage its case.
On Tuesday BRDC members heard how the organisation’s board would only consider deals upon terms which were “clearly favourable to the long-term future of British motor sport and to the Club.”
It said that its long-term objective is to develop Silverstone’s infrastructure, related technologies, education and training and to ensure that the UK continues to be the global leader in these specialist areas.
Robert Brooks, BRDC Chairman, said, “The resolutions proposed at this EGM called for the powers, granted to the Board at a previous EGM two years ago, to be extended to our core land. I am of course pleased with the outcome, it further illustrates the BRDC’s commitment to Silverstone and to the future of British motor sport.â€
Damon Hill, BRDC president, added: “This vote is a significant result for the future of Silverstone.
“Today’s EGM was not about selling Silverstone. BRDC Members were voting on whether or not the Board should be authorised to approach and negotiate deals, with potential investors, on behalf of the Club.
“It is purely commercial. Silverstone is an international sports arena and we are continuing with plans to develop it in keeping with the very highest standards. The primary function of Silverstone will always be racing, hopefully with a British Grand Prix.”
Richard Phillips, Silverstone’s chief executive, said recently that with Donington’s plans not yet progressed past the groundwork stage, he would need to know quickly whether or not his circuit will be organising a race in little more than nine months’ time. Ticket sales are a particular concern.