Bernie Ecclestone makes demands for Silverstone

British Grand Prix, Silverstone, 2006, startBernie Ecclestone has explained what Silverstone need to do if it is to keep the British Grand Prix for 2010 and beyond. It gives rare insight into how stringent his requirements are:

What other countries would normally do is enter into a commercial agreement. We would want a letter of credit to cover two years’ fees. They would then need to build a facility in the way we would want it built. If they didn’t build it for whatever reason, they would lose their two-year fee.

The BRDC reportedly paid ??8m to host the Grand Prix last year, suggesting this two year fee would be ??16m at the very minimum. Can they really afford this?

Ecclestone also said:

Assume the facilities are built and we like it. The next problem is the commercial agreement for [the Grand Prix] to be there. This has not been discussed other than the [BRDC] guy who came to see me some time ago saying there is no way [they] could pay you even what we have paid you in the past.

So there are two things to overcome. First they need to build the facilities, then they need to pay the market rate. There is no sentiment in this from my point of view. I want [the BRDC to do] only what we do in any other country, no more, no less. I sincerely hope they are in a position to deliver what they know they have to carry out to get the Grand Prix in 2010.

And when he says “market rate” I don’t imagine he is overlooking the fact that in Lewis Hamilton Britain has a potential world championship-contending driver for the next few seasons, and the circuit should expect to sell out race day and qualifying tickets. Its ticket prices are already the third-highest on the calendar, according to F1 Racing magazine.

Some estimates put the total cost of a new five-year contract for Silverstone at $135m (??68.4m).

It is not clear whether Ecclestone considers Silverstone’s proposed redevelopment sufficient to match the facilities he requires. Hopefully his demands don’t extend to whinges like ‘it’s too bumpy’.

The circuit owners are close to submitting plans to build a new pit and paddock complex to South Northamptonshire Council. Their requests to construct two hotels, a university campus, leisure complex, conference and exhibition centre, advanced technology park and residential housing are already being considered.

The total cost of this investment is put at ??25m.

Without the potential extra revenue generated by these non-racing developments it is unlikely the circuit could afford Ecclestone’s asking price, regardless of how many fans turn up to cheer on Hamilton.

I do wonder why the race organisers can’t simply add further grandstands to increase race day attendance and revenue, as the Circuit de Catalunya has done since the Fernando Alonso-powered boost for F1’s popularity in Spain. But I suspect there’s a tedious explanation to do with insurance, policing, and health and safety requirements.

However I doubt anyone involved in negotiating for the British Grand Prix is under any illusions about Ecclestone’s bargaining tactics. The United States Grand Prix was reportedly dropped over a difference in price of just $10m (??5.06m).

More on Silverstone and the British Grand Prix

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16 comments on Bernie Ecclestone makes demands for Silverstone

  1. Andy Wolf said on 6th February 2008, 9:43

    We all know the facilities are poor at Silverstone, but this constant slagging off by Eccle-Napoleon is really tiresome. Remember, Silverstone gets next to no help from our government in terms of cash unlike other tracks. What Silverstone does have is one of the fastest & most thrilling track layouts. Even with these awful aerodynamic rules, we always seem to get a good race, regardless of the wetness of the track.

  2. Here we go again – napoleon bernie – like that – he is at it – well tell you what bernie take you and max and itv’s F1 and really go – it’s getting overated and boring – do what the americans have done and dont bow to his pressure – the australians have told him to beat it – more or less over his demand for night racing – if we dont watch he doesnt generate advertising revenue/profit – it may seem like cutting our throats to spite our face but they only want subserviant teams kow towwing to him and max so dump it – you may say this is a bit of a rant – it is but would any of you put up with listening to him and max except for what they are involved with? – you would tell them to shovel off and leave everyone in peace – feel better now thats out

  3. frecon said on 6th February 2008, 13:40

    He threatened to don’t go to Silverstone, Australia, Magny-Curs, Indianapolis

    In next two years there will be GP in Abu-Dhabi, South Korea, India, Singapore.

    I think the idea is pretty clear: if yu can pay it all GP are on sale.

  4. Scootin159 said on 6th February 2008, 14:33

    “Its ticket prices are already the third-highest on the calendar, according to F1 Racing magazine”

    Does anyone know where I could find a listing of these prices (I guess I could go through the F1 site and just check each GP individually, but I was hoping for a simple listing)?

  5. frecon said on 6th February 2008, 14:34

    I’m sorry for the off-topic, but i don’t know where this comment could fit:

    I have read a new where is said that Mclaren is not going to be in the last boxes of the pit lane, in spite of officially they were the last team last season.

    They protested because boxes and hospitality zones were too small for them, and Ecclestone have changed their position to the sixth.

    Actually they wanted the third box (the Alonso’s one), but renault refused to move. Fourth and fifth also refused to change.

    Why is there rules in F1? They could change all the regulations for a single rule: FIA referees , Mosley and Ecclestone will judge any case individually, and they’ll decide whatever they want.

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th February 2008, 14:36

    Have you got a link to a story on that Frecon?

  7. Steven Roy said on 6th February 2008, 18:49

    Max has made one stupid decision after another since he originally took the job. There seems to be no obvious logic to his decision other than the obvious Ferrari bias.

    Bernie is only interested in his bank balance. He will make whatever decision benefits him financially.

    I think McLaren were treated totally unfairly over the whole ‘spy’ nonsense but the inconsistency in how rules are applied is doing the sport no favours.

  8. J-Dub said on 6th February 2008, 19:11

    It seems to me that this race should be making upwards $35m US in ticket sales alone – and they’ve only been paying $16m US for the race in the past. Now Bernie wants the $22m US that all the other races have to pay. Seems to me that they should be making money on this race where is the profit going?

  9. frecon said on 6th February 2008, 21:34

    Hello Keith. Here you have the link to the new. It’s from Mundo Deportivo a sport newspaper. The info is signed by the own newspaper editorial staff, so i don’t know which are their sources.

    http://www.elmundodeportivo.es/web/gen/20080204/noticia_53430892592.html

  10. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th February 2008, 21:45

    Thanks Frecon, I’ll keep an eye out for it in the English-language media.

  11. Pink Peril said on 6th February 2008, 22:21

    I have long been calling for Mad Max’s head on a platter, but I think I am going to add calls for Napoleon Bernie’s head also.

    Any businessman worth his salt knows that retention of customers is more important/valuable and easier than attracting new ones. I’d like to see what the ticket sales were like for some of the more questionable events. Is there a fan base in Bahrain for example, or do the powers that be just pay the money Napoleon wants and not care if the race is run to an empty track?

    His devotion to the almighty dollar may prove his undoing in the end.

  12. Bernie is just another greedy old man. He wants to have a night race in Melbourne, just to please the American audience. The Americans are not great supporters of F1, they think that their Indy cars are better, purely because they are American made.

  13. Jim, I agree with you 100% that Bernie is just a greedy old man- we can find truckloads of evidence to support our claims on that. We also know that Bernie wants a night race down under, but I need to seriously question that the reason is to please American viewers.

    As I wrote on the page regarding the Australian GP, the race will air at 11PM ET in the US, and many American F1 fans (myself included) will be up watching. I think if Bernie really cared about F1 in America, he would have taken the simple steps to keep the USGP and market the race better over here- and that includes opening up to mainstream American sports media outlets.

    Contrary to popular belief, F1 dose have a fanbase in the US, and it can grow if marketed properly. Take myself- a university student raised in a house that, in terms of sports, revolved around baseball, basketball, and- most of all- American-style football. I’m catching on, and may others can as well.

  14. Journeyer said on 7th February 2008, 5:57

    Hi Gman, well, true, F1 does have a fanbase, but does Bernie think it’s big enough? If ever, F1 will go back to the US not because of the fanbase, but because of the manufacturers who want to make big bucks there.

    Bernie is too much of a businessman now, sadly. Or could it be that he wants the BRDC to sell out the GP to him? Methinks that’s what he wants to happen.

  15. Journeyer, in regards to the US fanbase and a return to America, I think it’s very much obvious that demands from the sponsors and constructors will fuel what will hopefully be a quick return. After all, if Bernie really cared about pleasing the loyal fanbases, would he ever juggle around comments about leaving Silverstone and the many loyal F1 fans in the UK?

    On your second topic, because i’m new to following the sport and living outside the UK, i’m not well enough informed on the Silverstone situation to give you an honest response. Bernie dose seem to always want to be in control though, and I would imagine such a move would give him just that, so it sounds like it could be a very realistic possibility.

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