UK government not interested in Grand Prix

Silverstone, UK flag, 2006Interest in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone seems to be growing thanks to the Lewis Hamilton effect – but don’t expect the British government to care.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport stated that the government does not bother to track foreign visitors coming to the UK for the Grand Prix, despite the obvious benefits it brings to the Northamptonshire region.

The statement was made in a reply to a question put by the Conservative MP for East Yorkshire Greg Knight.

The government is happy to put ???9.35bn of public money into staging the Olympics. Yet it will not commit a fraction of that sum to invest in the British Grand Prix, when thousands of British jobs are invested in the highly specialised motor sport industry.

Britain does not need a race circuit built with multi-million pound state funding like China. But it desperately needs and genuinely deserves some financial backing from the government – instead of the odd platitude from the DCMS which serves only to conceal their total disinterest in a sport where Britain excels.

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6 comments on UK government not interested in Grand Prix

  1. Journeyer said on 16th May 2007, 6:47

    This is sad… I guess they just got burned by that Ecclestone-Blair fundraising scandal. And we fans (especially you Brits) suffer for it.

  2. Cooperman said on 16th May 2007, 9:51

    I think that this is the beginning of the end for Britain’s major role in international motor racing. Up to this point, we’ve had top teams and top drives.

    Without the sort of investment that the government is happy to throw away on the Olympics (I am in favour of the Olympics but to reportadly put such a daft bid in, while not expecting to win the gig, is very short-sighted) this will have a knock-on effect down the British motor-racing industry to other formulae.

    Expect Britain’s star designers and engineers (Newey, Brawn, Gascoyne, Stepney, Head, etc.) to become a rare breed.

  3. Journeyer said on 16th May 2007, 9:59

    Cooperman, I’ll have to disagree with that for one reason: Lewis Hamilton.

    Lewis will drive the British motorsport industry into overdrive again, especially if he maintains his current momentum. And remember, there are 4 Brits on the grid (HAM, BUT, COU, and DAV). And Gary Paffett will likely drive in a Prodrive next year.

    Also, McLaren, Renault, Williams, Red Bull, Super Aguri, Spyker, and Prodrive are all based in Britain, so Britain will play a role in it for a long time yet.

    Also, Britain’s role may increase if the Tories come back to the power, ala Sarkozy in France. But that brings its own set of non-F1 related problems.

  4. UK Government = Pathetic

  5. I’m not normally one to defend the British government, and far less the decision to spend £10bn on a festival of minor sports – of all things – but surely the real villain here is Ecclestone.

    If he didn’t demand ludicrous race fees, the proceeds of which go mainly to his family fortune – then Silverstone might be able to find the money required to upgrade the circuit without having to go cap in hand to the British taxpayer.

    There’s a reason why all of Bernie’s recent follies have been built outside of Europe – no mature demoncracy with a functioning civil society would stand for their government throwing money at a sport which has so much already, but whose commercial boss refuses to plough back into the facilities.

    So we get Grands Prix at Singapore, Turkey, China and Malaysia, because that’s what suits Bernie’s bank balance.

    I hope Gordon Brown doesn’t give Bernie a penny.

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th May 2007, 23:38

    Patrick I think that’s an excellent and well-argued position, and I agree with you up to a point.

    But we can’t pick and choose when we’re capitalists and when we’re not. If the Chinese government come up to Bernie and offer him X hundred million dollars to put on a race, he’s not going to turn them down is he?

    Sticking with the same example, it’s not as if F1 is the only motor sport looking to China – NASCAR and Champ Car are doing the same. And before Britain blows the best part of £10bn on the Olympics, where is the IOC going to next? Beijing.

    Britain is home to an exceptional and highly specialised motor racing industry. Losing its national Grand Prix could strike a serious blow to that industry, and for the exorbitant sums the government is spending on the Olympics, it could go a long way towards protecting it.

    What really turns my stomach is how they send ministers to events like Autosport International, talking up the industry as if it’s something they had any part in developing, and utterly failing to come up with the goods when it’s needed.

    Having said all that, the better solution would probably be for Ecclestone to buy Silverstone, just as he has Istanbul Park, and put the matter beyond doubt.

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