Silverstone and David Cameron

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

David Coulthard, Red Bull-Ferrari, Silverstone, 2006The British Grand Prix is under threat.

It doesn’t matter how successful Lewis Hamilton is, how well the other three British drivers or, or even that most of the F1 teams are based in Britain: If Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t get his money, it’s game over.

Ecclestone wants the British government to put up some cash for the race. It’s common practice outside of Europe, especially among Asian states that seem to be falling over themselves to build tracks at enormous cost to the public purse.

And it just so happens that the leader of the opposition party in Britain was elected in a constituency in which two F1 teams are based.

David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative party, is Member of Parliament for Witney. The Oxfordshire constituency is home to two F1 teams: Williams in Grove and Renault in Chipping Norton.

Witney is a safe Tory seat to begin with: Cameron was elected with 26,571 votes in 2005 and a majority of 14,156.

Williams F1 headquarters, Grove, 2007But that hasn’t stopped people from speculating that, were the Conservatives to take power, Cameron would be keen to support the British Grand Prix. He would support the race to safeguard against the threat of a substantial loss of highly skilled jobs on his own back door.

Ecclestone is more than happy to do such deals. The organisers of the next European Grand Prix, to be held on the streets of Valencia next year, were only promised the race as long as the Partido Popular regained power in elections there last month. They did, and the race will go ahead in 2008.

And don’t forget that a supposed deal with Ecclestone was one of the first major embarrassments for Tony Blair’s new government in 1997, when Blair returned a ???1m loan from Ecclestone amid controversy over legislation banning tobacco advertising in F1.

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