British Grand Prix switches to Donington Park from 2010. Really?

Nico Rosberg, Williams, Silverstone, 2006, 470150

The FIA has put out a media release claiming the British Grand Prix will switch to from Silverstone to Donington Park in 2010.

This is a surprising announcement for several reasons. Not least because the news has been put out jointly by Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone, whereas usually these matters are solely Formula One Group’s concern (and therefore Ecclestone’s).

But it’s not even clear if Donington Park could be ready to hold a Grand prix within two years.

The circuit has only held one round of the Formula 1 world championship, in 1993. The European Grand Prix held fifteen years ago is fondly remembered by F1 fans by that phenomenal first lap by Ayrton Senna.

However 15 years is a long time in Formula 1 and presumably work will have to be done to bring the circuit up to modern standards.

Spectator access to Donington Park is another problem. The Moto GP round at the circuit often sees queues of several hours – and many spectators arrive on bikes to that event.

Handling a greater volume of cars will put the local roads under massive strain. This is a problem that Silverstone has largely solved, at great cost, in recent years. So why move the race to another location where this problem will have to be sold again? Especially when planning permission for such changes can take so long in Britain.

Bernie Ecclestone said:

I am sorry that we could not have helped Silverstone to raise the money to carry out the circuit improvements and run Formula One. I believe that the government should have supported them which would have cost probably less than .002% of the government’s commitment for the Olympic Games.

I don’t have a problem with the race going to Donington Park (I love the Donington Grand Prix collection), and I’m glad the British Grand Prix is apparently safe. But I’m sad to see it go away from Silverstone. It’s a cracking circuit and it’s the place where modern Formula 1 began in 1950.

For now, the 2009 British Grand Prix looks at being the last in Silverstone. But will the British fans really be at Donington Park in 2010?

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27 comments on British Grand Prix switches to Donington Park from 2010. Really?

  1. Robert McKay said on 5th July 2008, 0:16

    This is all I can really muster on this issue: DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.

  2. frecon said on 5th July 2008, 0:39

    The other day i’ve read a new about Tilke visiting Donington. Today i read this post at this site…

    Just a coincidence?

  3. michael counsell said on 5th July 2008, 1:14

    For a long time now Britain has had three tracks holding international events Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Donington Park. World Superbikes, World Touring Cars, Le Mans Series, DTM, MotoGP, FIA GT etc are all up for grabs and can change hands between them so F1 should be no exception.

    I assume Donington gave a higher bid or better promises for facilities which is fair enough I guess. Different rates are set for different tracks based on their importance to Formula 1 (The Bahrain GP costs a lot more than teh British GP), but I am worried that if the rates become to high to allow the tracks to be run at a profit, quality in the long term could be compromised.

  4. Having just been to Donington for the British MotoGP round, it’s hard to conceive how different the facilities and the track will need to be in just two years time.

    The rumours of planes dumping fuel are nonsense, but there are other issues with the track of more consequence. The track is just 10m wide with very limited run off space. This is an aspect of the track that the bike racing fans love – spectators are able to get unbelievably close to the action. For example, at the Esses, the crowd are crammed onto a grassy bank, separated from the track by a wall and fence and just 3 metres of grass. When F1 arrives, I have no doubt that this will be very different. The organisers this year also made extensive use of temporary fencing with limited success – a last lap track invasion was both dangerous and stupid, but a consequence of bars opening at 10:00, flimsy fences and a couple of hundred idiots.

    Aside from this, the paddock buildings are a joke, 60’s prefab concrete and tiny in size, and simply not suitable for MotoGP, let alone F1. Spectator facilities are dire, with limited seating and camping on grassy banks the norm. The last time I was at an F1 race with the same approach was at Silverstone, but in 1987.

    £100M seems like an optimistic figure for the amount of work required. Hopefully the work will not affect the character of the track itself, but I think this is probably not realistic. However, the removal of the Melbourne Loop would not be mourned over by many.

    I still can’t quite conceive of the switch happening, but it does look like it will.

  5. Ronan said on 5th July 2008, 16:40

    I personally don’t mind the venue change. The only thing I’m afraid of is that I’ve heard Hermann Tilke will be doing some redesigning on the track layout. Gary Anderson (former Jordan designer and commentator for Irish TV) said he’s seen the new layout and it looks ambitious. I hope Hermann doesn’t ruin what is a classic track.

  6. donwatters said on 5th July 2008, 16:43

    Too many things just don’t make sense in this deal. There must be one helluva backstory.

  7. Ronan said on 5th July 2008, 17:13

    What are the chances of Bernie announcing Silverstone to be kept on under some other title? Spain have two races because of Alonso, what not the same for England and Hamilton? Also look at how many times Mangy-Cours has been let off the hook.

  8. James said on 5th July 2008, 18:11

    Donington has been a super tintop and bike circuit for God knows how many years. Now F1 comes along and they’re going to rip bits of it up.

    Whatever comes of this, I hope they don’t trash the character of the circuit too much; Wide, 3rd gear turns might be cool for F1 but it’s a snooze for everyone else.

  9. Lynn said on 7th July 2008, 11:43

    I am not surprised that this situation has arisen. Silverstone provides dreadful facilities and is very overpriced. The stupid tunnel, the horrendous queues for the broken down toilets, the amazing way that traffic heading for southbound M1 is funnelled down a single track road, plus the complete lack of viewing points for anyone holding a general admission ticket.

    Whilst I agree that Donnington needs a lot of work on it, I think it will be a shame if they cover the whole place in stands and restrict open viewing. The open spaces add to the feel of the circuit. Car park access / exits need to be improved but once out it isn’t difficult to get home.

    I always feel valued as a visitor to Donnington, not like the walking wallet you are treated as at Silverstone.

  10. life long F1 fan said on 9th July 2008, 15:34

    In response to Lyn, the reason donnington park has up to now being cheaper is because it has no over heads ! wait intill theres a £100.000.000 debt plus Berines £50,000,000 bill every year to bring his circus to town ! the prices will have to rise for all events to cover this. Sliverstone do not make any money from hosting the BGP the ticket money only covers the host cost’s and thats it in fact the BGP has made alost some years. go to any other event at sliverstone like the Le mans which moved from donnington and the prices are as reasonable £30.00 for a weekend ticket! I have’nt seen the business plan for this but fully except the fans will be paying.

    I dont beleive Bernie has thought this though, due to the size of donnington there is no way he is going to fit in 132,000 fans if he does they will be mostly gen admin and not grandstand or VIP (which pay for sliverstone) so get ready for Gen admin tickets to raise to near £150-200 at least !!!!! bad bad news for F1 fans and as a ex BSB rider I will be joining protest groups to prevent the track from being changed ! Well done Bernie you upset bike & car race fans with this one you muppet ! Bernie and Max’s need to go and quick ! they had there day in the 80’s & 90’s when they did sort F1 out and we thank them for that but they have now lost touch wth real everyday motorsport fans the world over. raise up people make your voices heard and protest ! do not buy tickets for 2010 BGP write letters of protest to the FIA FOM and most of all SUPPORT BRITISH MOTORSPORT !!!!!!!!!

    To Bernie,

    you said on sunday that you signed with donnington becasue they need a contract to be able to submitt planing applications and to fund the money !! Sliver had both ! they just need a contract and money would be there the planning was already there and you would not sign ! I want to why ??? you wanted something that Sliverstone could or wouldnt give you what was that? do you really need more money?

  11. Response to a couple of posts:
    The discussion about aviation fuel being dumped is incorrect but there is a concern about fuel “vapour” being deposited on the track.

    The last post about being able to fit in 132,000 fans in…MotoGp attracted 139,000!

    p.s
    before you argue with me…I work at donington!!

  12. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd September 2008, 16:23

    Gaz – very useful, thanks!

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