Another Donington deadline missed: will Ecclestone give Silverstone its race back?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The fate of the British Grand Prix hangs in the balance
The fate of the British Grand Prix hangs in the balance

Donington Park’s plan to hold the British Grand Prix in 2010 had its doubters from the start, and it looks like they were right all along.

Yesterday Donington missed its deadline to confirm it had the funding in place to complete the building work at the track in time for the race – a deadline that has already had several extensions.

Will Bernie Ecclestone now save the British Grand Prix by giving it back to Silverstone? Or will he confirm the suspicions of those who feared this was a scheme to get the event off the calendar to make room for more lucrative races?

Ecclestone told the Daily Mail:

This is the final deadline – 200 per cent. It’s not good is it? Even if they come up with the money they can’t build the circuit in time.
Bernie Ecclestone

He has changed his position on whether Silverstone could hold the race next year several times. After the Donington deal was announced during the British Grand Prix weekend in 2008 he insisted there was no way back for Silverstone, then conceded earlier this year that might not be the cased, and has changed his mind at least once more since then.

If Donington can’t pull it off, this will be the second time in seven years the British Grand Prix has been promised to a circuit other than Silverstone, only for the deal to fail.

Ecclestone originally gave the race to Brands Hatch for 2002 in a deal with circuit owner Nicola Foulston. But she sold the circuit on the strength of its British GP contract, making millions. The reconstruction work at Brands Hatch wasn’t completed in time and Ecclestone brokered a deal with the circuit’s new owners Octagon to hold the race at Silverstone.

Now we will find out if Ecclestone has anything up his sleeve to keep the British Grand Prix on the calendar – or if he is really interested in sparing it at all.

Damon Hill, president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, has said Silverstone will take the race back, but not on a one-year deal that might see the race returning to Donington in 2011:

If Donington does not happen, then you have to ask yourself what that says about the decision to look into it in the first place. And in those circumstances it would be nice to think that we could get round a table with FOM and put to bed once and for all the uncertainty over the future of the British Grand Prix.
Damon Hill

Is Hill’s optimism justified or misplaced? Could there be no British Grand Prix next year – for the first time in the history of the world championship? Have your say in the comments.

Keep an eye on Brits on Pole who are watching every move in this story.

2010 British Grand Prix

Update: Stephen Northcott on Twitter suggested I create a Twibbon for F1 fans to show their support for the British Grand Prix – so here it is! Grab yours now: