Silverstone gets new Grand Prix deadline

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

World champion Jenson Button may not have a home race next year
World champion Jenson Button may not have a home race next year

Silverstone has been given a new deadline of December 11th to get a deal in place to hold the British Grand Prix.

Bernie Ecclestone had previously given the circuit until November 7th to sign a contract but, not for the first time in his negotiations over the 2010 British Grand Prix, the critical date has been moved back.

However it seems what Silverstone realy needs from Ecclestone is not more time to settle a deal but more favourable terms.

Three days ago Donington Ventures Leisure Limited went into administration having failed to complete the work they needed to host the 2010 British F1 round at Donington Park. It’s hard to credit their optimistic claims they might still hold a British round of the world championship in 2011.

It’s not unreasonable for the British Racing Drivers’ Club to want to avoid a similar fate by locking themselves into the same payment structure Donington were facing – a 17-year deal costing them a total of ??370m.

Silverstone is developing other areas of its business in order to remain profitable. A new complex at Stowe has been revealed which is designed for testing cars and motoring products.

Ecclestone, as ever, refuses to countenance giving Silverstone special treatment in order to secure a British Grand Prix in the calendar. He told The Times:

Of course we want a British Grand Prix. I?ve been spending an awful lot of time trying make sure it does happen, but there is no chance of an exceptional contract for Silverstone. Why should there be?
Bernie Ecclestone

I’m sure many of us can think of good answers why F1 should not cut yet another popular and historic race from its calendar.

It seems hard to believe F1 could end up with a Lewis HamiltonJenson Button British ‘superteam’ at McLaren – but no British Grand Prix. But those who’ve been following F1 a long time have become used to seeing the sport shoot itself in the foot in this way.

There have been optimistic rumours about government ministers getting involved (there is a general election next year which the current government is expected to lose, which might encourage some action), and a potential combined deal which would also bring the French Grand Prix back as a 20th race in 2010.

So far none of this has come to pass. In the final reckoning, it will surely come down to Ecclestone’s call whether he wants a British Grand Prix on the calendar in 2010. An this time his deadline might be a real one.

19 days and counting.

Silverstone, Donington and the 2010 British Grand Prix

59 comments on “Silverstone gets new Grand Prix deadline”

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  1. Myles Woerner
    21st November 2009, 9:22

    It would be a tragedy not to see the British GP on the calender next year. As an American, it stings not being able to attend the US GP. I could only imagine how that would feel for a Briton. Please, Bernie, don’t be an ass. For once put money aside and do what is right for the sport.

    1. Bernie is right, though, that the British GP shouldn’t get special treatment. He has been asking for years and years for the BRDC to upgrade the facilities, and only now have they started even thinking about doing what he has asked (the argument that they can’t afford it doesn’t wash, since the GP turns a profit for them and they built themselves a new clubhouse a few years ago).

      The deal that has been offered to Silverstone is perhaps the cheapest deal for any venue. Slashing the prices further would be unfair to other venues, even other “historic” ones like Spa.

      Silverstone has many other sources of income and if they feel that signing the deal for the GP is going to impact them negatively, they won’t. The sad reality is that Silverstone does not need F1 and, even sadder, F1 does not need Silverstone.

      1. For me it’s not a question special treatment – it’s that Bernie’s demands are exorbitant, and someone, somewhere, at some point (someone who’ll be listened to, that is) has to start saying so in order to change the culture of extortion (and I use that word very consciously) that Bernie has set in place.

      2. Effectively Bernie is transferring ALL of the risk involved onto the circuit though, and that can’t possibly be right.

        I think they would sign up if they were allowed clauses such that they don’t have to pay as much if Bernie’s circus doesn’t attract a full house each race day, or if british drivers or teams left the sport.

        No sane person would take a bet on the next 17 years of F1.

      3. I agree with some of the comments from Andy here, F1 is perceived to be a glamour sport, and Silverstone, on a GP weekend, with it’s legions of campervans, and tents, and it’s dated corporate buildings, hardly cuts it when it is compared to the richly adorned, government subsidised, Eastern circuits. I love going to Silverstone, walking in at dawn from the tent, watching the build-up, and the crowds! however, camping in Abu Dhabi may not be the image that the race authorities wish to promote, and probably not the kind of race goer they are looking for….maybe I can get a Gucci label on my six man, perhaps some Tag heure coolbags for the beer…..

      4. only now have they started even thinking about doing what he has asked

        It took years to negotiate the planning permission for track improvements. By contrast, Donington were given planning approval in a matter of months. This wasn’t the BRDC’s fault.

        The deal that has been offered to Silverstone is perhaps the cheapest deal for any venue. Slashing the prices further would be unfair to other venues

        It doesn’t matter how cheap it is, if it’s too expensive to afford, then the contract can’t be signed. There are laws that stop company directors agreeing to unrealistic deals like this.

        Keith is right that Bernie could seriously shoot himself in the foot here. He needs to wake up and understand that F1 can’t price out it’s founding venues that attract more fans than the newer, better funded ones.

    2. As an American, I also feel bad the Brits.. but not that bad. I mean really, worse comes to worse one can hop on EasyJet, RyanAir, etc. and go to Spa, Catalyuna, Monaco, Valencia, Budapest, Monza… An Americans only backup option is Montreal without booking a flight halfway around the damn world.

  2. Anyone want to bet a Fiver that there is no Brit GP next year, but in 2011, there is one, at Donington?

    1. Unlikely. The track is currently a bombsite, I dont think any racing is able to take place which will mean a loss of revenue for the circuit, the track’s owner has died (who was part of the driving force for a race there) and finally Donnington Ventures Ltd are bankrupt.

      Unless someone else can step in, I would really doubt it.

      1. Tom Wheatcroft had nothing to do with the recent GP deal, it was undertaken by Donington Ventures. Now that DVLL is in administration, their lease could be cancelled and control of the property revert back to the Wheatcroft family.

        Not that any of this would make a 2011 Donington GP more likely.

    2. I agree with with GP4Carl on this. Bernie loses face if the the GP ends up back at Silverstone, that’s why he’s currently being tough wih them. I can understand why he would be happy if the British GP misses a year and comes back at Donington. The biggest problem is the investment.

  3. The teams and drivers need to stand up to FOM and give the fans what WE want – a British GP at Silverstone.

    It’s not Bernie’s Sport – it’s our’s.

    1. Sadly, in a way it is Bernie’s.

      1. Yep, very sad, technically its CVC’s foster child ….

        But its Bernie’s to ruin so he can buy it back at a low low price!

        You got to hand it to Bernie and Max, make it grand and sell the thing high … then run it into the ground and buy it back cheap!

      2. The man will be dead by the time the deal on the table comes to an end. His financial issues cannot be allowed to take a Grand Prix away from the country which is the birthplace of Motorsport.

    2. Forget Kimi leaving, this would be the ultimate reason not to watch F1 again.

      It’s not like we can even do anything about the situation – even if there was a successful audience boycott of the newer races, that would only hurt the teams’s pockets more than Bernie’s. My only hope is if the GP is cancelled then FOTA would boycott all the newer races they could by not bothering to turn up to them. Even then, I suppose Bernie has some legal trick up his sleeve. It’s frankly pathetic that F1 is in this situation and FOTA should have gone their own way when they had the chance.

  4. It could still happen but I feel a bit less positive now. Even if it doesn’t happen next year it’s extremely unlikely the Brit GP will be gone permanently. As much as I’m desperate to go next year, I would prefer to have the best deal for the long run rather than just making sure it’s there.
    Bernie gets a lot of stick for this and he isn’t the angel in this but Silverstone are the ones which have to sign to and are part of the reason why we’re in this mess. I don’t like the blame game as both parties are at fault here but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is if this deal will be done or not.
    I don’t want government interfence and I’m not sure what they can do anyway. Everyone is talking up cuts, Lib Dems are pretty powerless, some Labour MPs may work very hard but if Brown says no they aren’t going to risk another row and tories I’m assuming won’t help much with cuts. It isn’t a major party issue but few MPs right now will disrupt their party if the people at the top say no.

    1. I wonder how much money they’re going to cut from an Olympics budget whose already overblown nature could have been predicted from Day 1? Interesting to note that the current estimate exceeds the original estimate by more than what Silverstone needs to grant the diminutive dictator’s fantasy wonderland.

      1. True Olympics money is ridiculous but they were always going to spend more on it. I think they should invest in both or none at all but like I said I prefer the government to stay out of things.

        1. The Olympic spending is creating a lot of things that will still be there after the Olympics are gone. Is it worth all the money just for those two weeks? Hardly. Over time will all of that spending on all of those projects benefit the people enough to justify the expense? Most definitely. The Olympic spending is a one time cost with on going benefits. The GP support will be a large annual expense for something that will only provide a benefit for a short window. Plus the number of people traveling internationally is a small percentage of those attending the race, so there isn’t even a massive influx of foreign money to give the government a return on its annual investment. Also before the construction jobs these projects create put people to work and put more money into a weakened economy. That’s a big boost you don’t get by subsidizing the GP. There is a very limited number of people who will be employed specifically for the GP, and even for those who do the job is very short lived. The Olympic expenses are also spread out amongst a large number of companies, benefiting a large number of people. The GP payments are only lining the pockets of Bernie and CVC, a billionaire who doesn’t need the money because he scammed a private equity fund, and a private equity fund that is either too stupid to realize they’ve been scammed by the same crooked billionaire they hired to represent them, or who doesn’t care that they’ve been scammed as long as that billionaire can scam even more money, on their behalf, out of other people or governments.

          1. Not a bad assessment of the moral values of CVC Capital Partners and their Rottweiler attack dog that we call Ecclestone, Adam.

            As far as these bloodless bean-counters are concerned F1 is a circus run purely to make them rich; and esoteric considerations of history, British F1 technical leadership and engineering skills, massive fan base, first class TV coverage etc, etc, mean less than a tinkers cuss to these faceless bloodsuckers.

            Within five years Ecclestone will hopefully be just a bad memory, but the damage he can do to everything we value in F1 between now and his fervently yearned-for demise is incalculable.

            The terms CVC/Ecclestone are offering BRDC are similar to those offered to prisoners of war in ancient times. ‘You can run away now and nobody will stop you, but first we will to sever your femoral artery. Or you can stay here until we roast you very slowly over small fire….. The choice is your….’

    2. Even if the Government wanted to help the British Grand Prix, they wouldn’t have the political power to do so. Can you imagine the reaction of the popular press if the Government used public money when the Countries finances are in such a mess to subsidise a multi-million pound sport such as F1, when really the money is just going straight to CVC because they are demanding too much.

      While the Government are rightly criticised for the mess they have made of the Olympic budget, for example not including VAT in the original estimates for the bid, its too late to back out of hosting the games and they will say the money is regenerating parts of London.

      1. Anyone who’s looked at the real Olympic budget will realise the fallacy in all the numbers THE PRESS publish to make headlines – they never really tell you what is included but rather publish “whooo Olympics expensive!!!”

        There are many things included that are “being done for” the Olympics, but they needed doing anyway… ranging from Subway lines to new housing in derelict areas of the city.

        I think the budget is blowing up as it seems an easy way to get something done, everyone requesting money of xyz amount out of a bottemless pit – just claim its for the Olympics.

        Also the GP will hardly have the same financial recuperation as the Olympics will for the country. The majority of fans at Silverstone are from England, on the other hand the Olympics will draw in countless fans spending their money from elsewhere on flights, trains, burgers, accommodation etc. – Im not claiming that will pay it off, but they are figures never mentioned.

        If it were a business and you had no idea of revenue you would look foolish criticising any financial decisions – its not solely about expense.

        This is Bernie’s doing not our governments, and Bernie believing all governments should line his pockets as they do elsewhere. An F1 race needs to be financially viable on its own grounds.

  5. I can’t imagine there not being a British grand prix :( surely Bernie wants one here, it’d sell out for sure with 2 British drivers in a British team.

    1. Isn’t Silverstone usually flooded with people anyway?
      Next year will be British pride gone mad. Mercedes may not have a good time at Silverstone the rate people are harping back to the war…

  6. It will be a great loss for F1,but isn’t it possible that both Silverstone & Donington host alternative Grand Prix.
    I will love to see French Grand Prix back in F1.

    1. Hockenheim and Nurburgring tried that with the German GP (and to some extent Fuji and Suzuka) and its just not economically viable, sadly.

      It’d be great if they could find a way to make it work.

  7. I wouldn’t mind not seeing Silverstone providing we get Long Beach and six wheelers back.

    Sounds crazy I know but this is Bernie we are talking about.

  8. Bernie’s quote is the usual self-serving rubbish. Having done the maximum he could to strain the possibility of there being a British Grand Prix by demanding ridiculous improvements that won’t make the racing better one jot, and then the farce that was Donington, how can anyone believe him when he says he has worked hard to keep the GP on the calendar? What he means to say is he’s been working hard to get the deal he wants.

    The pure unadulterated greed of the man makes me seethe with anger sometimes. He just wants another royal palace where his short stature and odious personality can be compensated for, and to hell with the racing or how many people turn up, because he’s already got his money.

    I hope FOTA continue with their breakaway plans properly so they can launch their own series after 2012 and make sure no-one has such ludicrous power over the sport again.

  9. As much as I want a British Grand Prix, Silverstone should not sign any deal that does not make financial sense for them, and I don’t think any Government anywhere should subsidies it’s Grand Prix.

    I just received my latest copy of F1 Racing Magazine, and although I don’t have it with me at the moment the article at the back where they ask for someone’s best bits of advice was with Martin Brundle, as well as giving a good bit of advice about how drivers should always be nice to commentators, he said that directors of companies are not allowed to sign any deal they can’t deliver on financially which was one of the problems he had when he was on the board of the BRDC.

  10. I want a British GP

    I don’t want my tax to go and line Bernie/CVC’s pockets

    I don’t want CVC.

    I seriously think F1 should break away in order to escape the clutches of CVC

  11. They would have been right to break away, the sport has gone in the wrong direction in the last few years, proper venues that were packed with fans (Montreal, Indy, Imola) have all been replaced with TV friendly races like Abu Dhabi which has something like only 50,000 people there.

    There should be a British GP, most of the teams are British based, the last two world champions are British and the sport has a massive following, to not have it would be an appalling judgement call from Ecclestone. Why should grand prixs that are not government funded like Silverstone be charged the same money as those that are, its a different philosophy of business.

    The only way I can see Silverstone geting government help would be to improve its facilities, given the amount going on the olympics I don’t see why spending an amount on bricks and mortar at Silverstone would be a problem. As long as government money is not going directly to Ecclestone I think it is fine.

  12. A deadline extension? Imagine that, how original. They’ll come to terms. Hopefully….. The problem might not be the CVC/Bernie asking price, it’s the 7/10% yearly increases after the first year. Good luck. This is why we don’t have a GP in the US and why it seems to be developing into a regional Middle East/Asian racing series.

  13. I will actually be gutted if there isn’t a British GP next year. How can Bernie justify getting rid of Silverstone, that is always packed full of fans, and keeping a circuit like Istanbul on the calender?!

    1. How can Bernie justify getting rid of Silverstone, that is always packed full of fans, and keeping a circuit like Istanbul on the calender?!


  14. It’s time FOTA started to do something constructive for a change and demand certain grand prix must stay on the calendar or else, e.g. Silverstone, Monza, Spa…

    1. Agreed 100%. Oh, FOTA, where art thou??????

    2. Fingers crossed its good news as Silverstone are scheduled to hold a press conference tomorrow according to the BBC –

  15. This is a bored novel…

  16. I’m actually fairly annoyed at Silverstone or at least the BRDC now I have thought about it more. Silverstone is one of the few GPs to make a profit, has one of the best deals if not the best. They are benefitting from this fiasco and yet Bernie is portrayed as the evil man which I suppose suits them.
    Bernie cannot move that much now with the deal because every single venue including the other historic tracks would be on the phone in an instant saying they want a better deal to. It is a freemarket driven by the demanding CVC which is an awful context and blame the CVC for that, but Silverstone have the best deal so it’s up to them whether they sign. Instead of all these petitions why don’t they show us they care? Make a decision. They can either afford it or they can’t but for the sake of the fans just make a decision.

  17. They are benefitting from this fiasco and yet Bernie is portrayed as the evil man which I suppose suits them.

    It’s not just Silverstone though – it’s the loss of a German GP, French GP, and now the British GP. This isn’t a one-off. If you want it in simple terms this is rich people with oil and gas treating F1 as a play thing just like they have done with premier league football clubs.

    It needs to be regulated (for the LONG TERM good of the sport), and if that means some tracks pay less because they haven’t got Abu Dhabi Oil money, then that’s what it should take.

  18. Walk away just like Canada did….CVC will have to PAY (thats right,PAY) to come back to Canada or the USA

  19. A banker’s heart is said to be as cold as stone, and must be to function in such a cognitive, as opposed to affective, arena.

    Does Bernie only “posture for position”, attempting to enhance his portion of an eventual compromise?

    Or,can it be that a former racer, a man associated with F1 for the majority of his life, has distanced himself so completely from his own national constituency, the British F1 fans, that he can bring about the demise of this iconic sporting event over, seemingly only one issue, money?

    Apparently Mr. Ecclestone is willing to reshape the future of “his” sport to fit, above all else, the financial model.

    1. Or,can it be that a former racer, a man associated with F1 for the majority of his life, has distanced himself so completely from his own national constituency, the British F1 fans, that he can bring about the demise of this iconic sporting event over, seemingly only one issue, money?

      Short answer: Yes.

  20. God, I wish Bernie would just disappear and CVC would sell the commercial rights to the teams and anyone else who wants to invest, like us.

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