British Grand Prix to skip a year in 2010? They said that about San Marino…

San Marino's hopes of a Grand Prix return in 2008 were dashed

San Marino's hopes of a Grand Prix return in 2008 were dashed

Bernie Ecclestone was widely quoted yesterday saying:

If the work at Donington is not finished in time, we would be happy to skip a year. I don?t want to lose the British Grand Prix ? that?s the last thing we want to do, but we aren?t going to Silverstone for sure.

I’m not in the slightest bit confident that if the British Grand Prix disappeared next year we would be likely to see it on the calendar again soon.

Ecclestone’s latest remarks are a climbdown from his words to The Times two weeks ago when he said:

If they were to do what they should have done, and what we’ve been asking them to do for five years, we’d have to have a look at it. We’ve got nothing against Silverstone.

But if the British Grand Prix were missing from the 2010 F1 calendar, would it be any more likely to return in 2011?

I’m not sure. When the San Marino Grand Prix was dropped after 2006 mayor Massimo Marchignoli declared his intention to get the race back in 2008. But, despite extensive modifications to the track, it never happened. Instead in 2008 F1 gained a second race in Spain and a new event in Singapore.

On Monday the Department for Culture, Media and Sport responded to a question in parliament about the future of the British Grand Prix:

Ministers continue to discuss the hosting of the British Grand Prix with various parties and I recently visited Donington to discuss progress with the owners.

It is the Government’s ongoing wish to see a British Grand Prix in this country and we continue to facilitate and support this where we can.

There continues to be no sign the government intends to support the race in any material way.

Donington Park boss Simon Gillett has finally begun to release information about the debenture scheme but details are still rather limited.

With so many doubts over Donington’s ability to hold a race next year, using Silverstone on a contingency basis makes a lot of sense. With six of the ten F1 teams based in Britain it is already the cheapest round for them to attend.

It may be hard to believe that the home country of the present world champion and current championship leading team and driver could be at such great danger of losing its F1 race. But FOM’s revenue from hosting Grands Prix is largely unrelated to ticket sales, so it matters little to them whether the grandstands are full or not.

I will be at the British Grand Prix this year – if you’re going and want to meet up read this post in the forum.

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48 comments on British Grand Prix to skip a year in 2010? They said that about San Marino…

  1. James_mc said on 13th May 2009, 15:28

    Despite the money being pumped into the running and jumping games I would rather the Govt. didn’t give money for re-doing the track(s) as it will just go into Bernie’s pocket.

  2. Chaz said on 13th May 2009, 16:29

    Donington Park boss Simon Gillett is missing a trick by not releasing regular updates to the press and fans. He is making this whole episode much harder than it should be by not doing this thereby allowing the media to speculate wildly and in most cases negetively. This is a relatively easy wrong to right…

    • Scott Joslin said on 13th May 2009, 17:29

      Chaz, I am not sure he has anything to tell the fans, other than making things up things really have not moved on other than digging a big hole in the track – they still don’t even have the money to back the programme.

  3. Call me a mercenary globalized capitalist consumer if you will but I’m not sure I really care if there is a British GP and yes I am from the UK born and bred. Firstly it’s cheaper for me to go to Hungary. Secondly I watch races on TV anyway where I can be sure to see most/all of the action. Thirdly after going to Silverstone a couple of years ago I vowed never to go again because apart from the race itself the whole experience was appalling. The only thing I have to say in favour of the event is that Silverstone is a great circuit that produces great racing but since we weren’t gonna go there next year anyway I’m not sure it really matters.

    If the government were to help fund a better event at Silverstone or a new better circuit however I wouldn’t object, it would be an improvement on spending money on arms.

  4. Paul said on 13th May 2009, 19:52

    Unlike Spa’s absence in 2006, Imola was never guaranteed a return to the world calendar for 2008. I know Imola opens the pleas to nostalgia that F1 fans love to appeal to, but it was a **** track that was pretty much a permanent circuit’s version of Monaco. It was tight and no one could hardly pass without making a visit to the pit lane.

    It was pretty as hell, but I’m certain the only reason we’ve seen it as late as 2006 was because of Ferrari’s popularity with Schumacher. Sometimes it’s best to move on.

  5. They said that about San Marino…

    Yeah, and the USGP as well. Feel my pain England! All joking aside F1 without a British GP will not be F1 at all. Unthinkable.

    • Gman said on 14th May 2009, 2:18

      Exactly right GeorgeK. In the most recent case for a USGP venue, Tony George was reasonably sure he could secure an F1 return in 2009. As we can see, not only is there no USGP, but we’ve lost a fine event in Montreal as well.

      In the meantime, Indy is running a MotoGP round (which TG was planning to do anyway) and it’s way less headaches than Bernie used to provide. Perhaps Silverstone saw the logic in that when they signed up MotoGP for the near future….

  6. Gman said on 14th May 2009, 2:23

    In terms of San Marino, I am disappointed that it is not still around. In terms of history and F1 passion, Britian and Italy are the obvious canidates in my mind for a second GP date. The Imola Circuit always looked fun on my video games, and the counter-clockwise layout always appealed to me as a novel challenge.

    In the end, San Marino fell victim to the two factors that have killed off many other GPs in recent years: Bernie’s sky-high prices, and- even more so in this case- the explosion of Asian venues signing up.

    If the British GP takes a year off (which will be a tragic moment) then I would indeed fear for it’s future well-beeing, as there is still no stop to the flood of Asian/Middle Eastern venues lining up at the FOM offices.

    • glamourBob said on 14th May 2009, 5:01

      In the case of Imola, it wasn’t money which killed it off: it was trees and rivers. The Tamburello and Villeneuve corners were extremely fast and modern safety standards demanded bigger run off areas. However the nearby rivers and trees are protected so instead of increasing run-off areas, they introduced chicanes at these corners to slow the cars down. This resulted in neutering the circuit, making it a snoozefest with no overtaking opportunities.
      Recently they’ve improved the track by removing a chicane just before the start/finish straight, meaning a long run down to Tamburello and therefore overtaking can now happen again in touring cars, but until they remove at least the Villeneuve chicane, the circuit is still a shadow of its former self, which is a real shame.

      F2 will be visiting Imola in september this year, so it should be interesting to see how single seaters go on the new layout. Watch the WTCC at Imola here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZlbTpfg2f8

  7. sean said on 14th May 2009, 7:16

    What would be the best for every one would be a return to all the circuits we love.If there was a series with the best team’s ie:Ferrari,Renault,mclaren,Bmw,Toyota,red bull/toro rosa,williams,Aston martin & usgp racing at these circuit’s.Silverstone,Canada,Imola,Magny Cors,indie,A1 ring,Spa,adelaide/melbourne,brazil,argentina,south africa,suzuka,fuji,monza,spain.The only reason is because of two men’s greed!They have to be stopped and now is the time to do it.All the circuit’s that he has dropped are because they refused to pay his fee.There is only one other organisation that get’s away with extortion the mafia

  8. Brands Hatch! Brands Hatch! :P

    In all seriousness though, if there is no British GP in 2010, I think the teams might hold true to the suggestion of running a non-championship race at Silverstone.

    ‘Nothing against Silverstone’? The fact that Bernie would rather have no race than a race at a great circuit with perhaps slightly out-dated architecture suggests thats total BS.

    The man is an idiot.

  9. KingHamilton&co said on 15th May 2009, 20:17

    the sooner a breakaway happens the better as far as im concerned, although naturally this will be very hard.

    and ofcourse, as usual, the fans will be the biggest losers of this one…..

  10. The Limit said on 16th May 2009, 3:39

    Watched the A1GP cars recently race at Brands Hatch via the internet, brought back many memories of the 1980s. Such a great circuit, interesting with its sudden and fast elevation changes. Close to London, close to several motorways, close to the Channel ports and the Eurotunnel. Close to the major airports. Why not invest there instead of Donington Park?
    You cannot claim that the circuit is unsafe. The A1GP cars scooted around there at a fare rate of knots with no problems. Donington was never that much of an interesting circuit. The 1993 race was only legendary due to Senna’s great display, not that long before his death. That is the only reason most people remember that race. It had nothing to do with the track, which even back then was boring and unimaginitive.

  11. I LOVE IMOLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

  12. manatcna said on 17th May 2009, 16:39

    It looks very likely (to me) that Donnington will fail.

    It’s also fairly obvious that ecclestone knew it would, and with Silverstone out of the question, there goes the British GP.

    But not to worry, it will probably resurface as the GP de Liechtenstein or some such.

    Pity that Estoril is gone too – That would have been a good race/holiday. Oh, well..

  13. Younger Hamilton said on 12th August 2009, 0:49

    I dont want san marino back again in F1 coz the track killed 2 Very important and commited F1 drivers in 1994 Ayrton Senna and somer other driver

  14. antonyob said on 12th August 2009, 9:07

    keith wont run with this probably cos my source wont talk to him so hes missed his scoop but categorically, Donnington will not go ahead. The owners begged a friend of mines firm who specialise in sports stadia to take the contract but they turned them down as it was impossible to finish the upgrades required by next years grand prix. If they fail then they have to give 10mill to Bernie & they would then sue the architects firm…hence them turning it down. you heard it here first

    younger hamilton – thats quite possibly the most ill informed crass comment ive ever heard in F1. were you trying to be amusing?

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