Ecclestone wants Donington Park and Silverstone to share British Grand Prix

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Ecclestone has another new idea for the British Grand Prix

Bernie Ecclestone has changed his mind on the future of the British Grand Prix yet again.

To recap, he started the year saying there was no way the 2010 race would be held anywhere other then Donington Park. He later suggested in an interview with The Times that this wasn’t the case, and then took those words back.

Then over the British Grand Prix weekend he warmed to the idea of keeping the race at Silverstone. And today he’s told the Independent he thinks the race should be held at both tracks, rotating from one year to the next:

If they don’t do it, Donington will get together with Silverstone.

I think this is a fine idea in principle: they’re both great tracks and it would ensure the British Grand Prix will remain on the calendar. As Andrew Tsvyk’s article on this site today points out, the race has rotated between Silverstone and other venues in the past.

But we have to be realistic and admit this approach has not worked very well of late.

The German Grand Prix was supposed to rotate between the Nurburgring and the Hockenheimring, but the ltter has now said it cannot afford to hold a race next year.

Fuji Speedway and Suzuka are also supposed to be sharing the Japanese Grand Prix. But Fuji’s owners Toyota have recently decided the track will not continue to hold F1 races.

Rotating tracks should in theory allow tracks to spread out the mmoth costs of holding a Grand Prix over a longer amount of time, but for whatever reason that doesn’t seem to work in practice.

Already a month has passed since the last British Grand Prix – a month which in previous years would have seen tickets going on sale. Time is already running out, and it seems to me the decision Ecclestone should be taking at the moment is which circuit is bet placed to hold a race in 2010, and take care of subsequent years after that.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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42 comments on “Ecclestone wants Donington Park and Silverstone to share British Grand Prix”

  1. Pedro Andrade
    19th July 2009, 12:14

    What bothers me is his total lack of respect to everyone he deals with. I’m no fan of Donington getting the British GP, but if the deal is made then it is made. He can’t just play around with the people at Donington.

    1. Pedro Andrade
      19th July 2009, 17:14

      only ppl loyal to me will be rewarded.

      … your daughters?

      1. Great retort…. Bernie is a trustworthy as a scorpion..and I am apologize to all scorpions for that slander.

    2. If sheik Abdul Al Salami offers him more money for his kingdoms GP, there wont even be a British GP. Lets consider ourselves lucky we have one, either at Silverstone or Donington

    1. We also suggested last September that the European Grand Prix might make an appearance on these shores, another possibility to watch out for.

      Aintree is the ideal venue for the European F1 if an annual event.

  2. Sush Meerkat
    19th July 2009, 12:37

    SO Bernie’s dilly dallying is effecting Silverstone ticket sales, well done Bernie.

  3. Sush Meerkat
    19th July 2009, 12:38

    Also if we really have to change venues every year I feel Rockingham would be better suited for F1, not Donnington

    And another thing, because of Bridgestone being the sole tyre supplier to F1 the Dunlop bridge has been removed, thats a travesty!.

    1. dave fitzsimon
      1st December 2009, 15:03

      I also think Rockingham would be ideal much as Indianappolis is used for the USA grand prix when staged. They have the spectator seating well and truly covered, access is good and they can use half the oval and the infield. This facility needs to be used.

  4. Robert McKay
    19th July 2009, 12:40

    Surely the fundamental problem with holding a race every two years is that it is not that different to holding a race every year.

    Say Bernie wants £20 million a year (made up numbers). Hockenheim pays £10m and Nurburgring pays £10 million, so the normal price to pay is halved…but hey, what’s this? The revenue is also halved as you’re only holding the race every two years.

    You’ve got to hope that being only every two years entices more people to attend your event that would it it was every year. But even with that boost you are still not attracting enough people to make the revenue to balance the money you’ve paid to Bernie.

    In essence all this “rotation” is doing is simply meaning that you are making a loss only every two years instead of every year and you’re hoping that the extra time between races gives you more “lower” categories that you CAN actually make money from in order to bridge the gap.

    It’s a terrible way to run a business. And now we’re seeing Hockenheim struggle but Nurgurgring aren’t willing/able to go back to every year (because as I say they can barely afford to run it at a loss every two years, let alone every other year), and it would not surprise me if the same thing happened in Japan with Suzuka.

    I’d go as far as to say that, at the moment, any country that goes as far as rotating their event is in serious danger of having NO events if they’re not careful.

    The real thing here is that whether you rotate it or not its still too expensive to host a GP and Bernie is working under the principle that the track should not be making a profit because the Government of the country is funding the race. That’s not sustainable in Europe.

    Arguably if the race cost less then Silverstone would have had the money in profit from the Grand Prix to actually fund the improvements Bernie has wanted for years…but Bernie wants governments to put money into a sport that has billions washing round it already. Crazy.

    1. Sush Meerkat
      19th July 2009, 14:08

      Say Bernie wants £20 million a year (made up numbers). Hockenheim pays £10m and Nurburgring pays £10 million, so the normal price to pay is halved…but hey, what’s this? The revenue is also halved as you’re only holding the race every two years.

      But its easy to reach a lower target.

      1. Not when you consider that it costs as much to have the facilities to the FIA’s standard to run an event every two years as every year. Strictly speaking, the expenses for the venue are not halved under this system. Perhaps they save a third, but they lose half their revenues – and that’s before taking Donington’s debenture scheme into account, which will get hardly any takers if the race is run on alternate years.

        This is a good way of getting rid of both tracks in the long-term and freeing up a slot. The trouble is that Ecclestone’s way of doing business means that nobody will be left to fill the gap – not even a country with no interest in F1 except as a publicity stunt.

    2. Say Bernie wants £20 million a year (made up numbers). Hockenheim pays £10m and Nurburgring pays £10 million, so the normal price to pay is halved…but hey, what’s this? The revenue is also halved as you’re only holding the race every two years.

      So what? You still pay 20 million per event.

      In fact I don’t think it works this way. They simply pay an amount for each event the circuit hosts. If they don’t host a race, they don’t pay.

      Hockenheim paid less for their event than Nurburgring.

      I’ll agree that it makes it more difficult to recoup the money invested. It will take the same number of events and thus twice the time to make that money back. That means that the return on investment is cut in half.

  5. Gee….who saw this coming? ;)

    And with Germany having problems…Can we expect two British GPs next year?

    I think so.

  6. Right I am going to assume that the British GP can make a small profit.

    Bernie has signed a contract with donnington for 17 years and in return he is expecting them to make a considerable investment of millons upon millions.

    The only way they could pay for this is throught the profits of hosting the GP.

    Therefore if there is a rotation then there income is effectivly halfed but there investment remains the same. However they will actually incurr more costs in bank intrest etc.

    I would immagine that if the if Bernie does impose a rotation then Donnington would be unable to afford it from the outset.

  7. What strikes me as surprising is that the only people who claim Silverstone to be a great circuit are those who have actually attended a race there. There must be awesome hospitality or something, because every race I’ve ever watched on television has been a dull procession.

    1. The true secrets of Silverstone are its atmosphere (which is electric, especially in the terraces), its lack of completely silly policies (for example, they’re fine with people bringing their own food and drink into the venue) and a good variety of clear views – whether your preference is for fast bits, slow twisty bits or overtaking spots, there is somewhere to sit that will allow you to see them.

      I went there, didn’t get any hospitality, but did get a very good time – even the somewhat processional race was no problem because whenever something happened it would be obvious and the place would be engulfed in a torrent of noise (apparently not every circuit is like that). Lots of places probably have better buildings and some definitely have better corners, but buildings are easy. People are hard. And Silverstone knows how to prime the people who go there into contributing to the event’s success.

      That’s how Silverstone has some of the highest prices of any F1 venue and can still sell out of tickets and make vast swathes of their viewers happy.

  8. Who cares.
    At least you guys have a GP.
    I wish my only choice for a “national” GP were to decide if I go to Indianapolis or Leguna Seca.

    1. That is another chapter of the “Why Bernie’s Modus Operandi is Bad For F1 and the Fans” book – probably never to be published but perhaps should be.

      1. Pedro Andrade
        19th July 2009, 17:19

        Ah! You’re not Bernie! Real Bernie would take other people’s ideas, than charge them for the book!

  9. It’s easy for figure out why it’s harder to make it work:

    If Donington Park is set to spend $100 million in upgrades. You have to assume that they plan on getting that money back in say 10 years or whatever it may be.

    Now if they hold a GP only every other year, then they’re looking at 20 years. But the cost of maintaining the track and keeping it to F1 standards will still be a yearly one.

  10. There’s only one problem here, and it’s Bernie’s fees for a GP.

    1. Thats why FOTA should have broken away. They could have reduced the track fee, the tickets and the whole model would have made money and they would have strangled the FIA and Bernie out of existence.
      Scunnyman was right when Fota had their chance and they royally screwed it up. They had momentum and the fans behind them and the first year would have been a little rocky but it would have resulted in better events and less bickering and headhunting.
      But they missed their opportunity and now we are stuck with poor tracks in worse countries and idiots making the rules on a whim just to satisfy two old farts that never cared about anything other than themselves and their power.

      1. Amen :-)

  11. What d!@%head….

  12. Make F1 not Gossip
    19th July 2009, 16:34

    Somebody STOP this guy to make important decisions in Formula 1. His bosses at CVC already asked him to step down… What is he doing now? After doing the stupid thing of taking the British F1 GP from the always great Silverstone, now it backfired and he is trying to get more support, keeping Silverstone in… A lot of BS…

    The ruling bodies of F1 are now like they have resigned and are just maintaining the shop. They shouldn’t be allowed to make any big decisions before the next FIA president steps up – hopefully is Ari Vatanen…!!!

    1. Your demise might be arranged..;)

  13. you have a point there. Bush might be stupid but he has balls.

    1. Bush who?

      guys with big balls and no brain are at the root of most problems …

  14. Whether a race is held every year or every other year, the interest bill for the investment comes due annually. How do you pay that in the off year with no event?

    How can Bernie give Donington a 17 year deal and take it away every other year??? If Donington wants to keep their agreement they damn well better be open next year!

  15. Lets consider him like a bee. If we ignore him and don’t take him seriously, then maybe he will just buzz off. Or everyone could just laugh at him every time he opens his mouth and he will think his going crazy, then end up in an insane asylum with white padded walls. I know I laugh every time i see him. hahahahaha, his hair cracks me up, and those beady little eyes look like they belong to Rat!!!lol. No disrespect meant.

  16. We should find a side by side picture of Bernie and Emperor Palpatine then sell t-shirts with that picture at all the GP’s

  17. uff, tks Keith, for deleting all that BS from that bernie guy…

    quite annoying, just ike the real one!

  18. Let’s point out that Bernie’s concession that the GP could be rotated between Silverstone and Donington will only apply if Silverstone make the upgrades they have promised Bernie.

    The BRDC have made promises countless times before and never delivered upon them. I expect no different from them this time.

    Let’s also not forget that had Silverstone made the relatively cheap redevelopments asked for by Bernie (at least, when compared to the money Donington is having to spend), we would never have arrived at this situation in the first place. Blame the BRDC, not Bernie.

    1. Mark Hithcock
      24th July 2009, 11:28

      As has already been mentioned, if Bernie lowered his prices then Silverstone would find it easier to fund the improvements.
      So I’m afraid it is stil Bernie’s fault whatever way you look at it.

  19. whats all this about tracks paying bernie for races? I was under the impression that he pays the tracks, but not enough?

  20. I support Silverstone because it is full of History.

  21. Fans must either back FOM or the FIA and understand that the main part of the game is that these two are at war. The FOM model not only doesn’t work for all but a couple of teams with either stupid manufacturers sinking money into them while supporting only part of their brand image needs or for the Ferarri brand/merchandise franchise that does work financially for the benefit of one only, and it also doesn’t work for countries with the majority of the fan base which are not prepared to state subsidise races to ridiculously calculated CVC sunk capital required return levels.

    FOM and Ferrari are the enemy of accessible competitive racing for the fan base, Mercedes and BMW are dupes, Toyota and Renault know better and will soon exit, and FOTA collectively is now an anti-competitive franchise trying to get up with the fewest teams possible to share whatever drippings CVC leave behind that wants no responsibility to any regulatory body that would threaten to bring in new competitors.

  22. I still thing Big Bad Bernie is trying to bluff the BRDC and get his hands on Silverstone himself, even if it takes a bit of time to do it.
    He has stirred up Donington now, and the whole of British motorsport is at his mercy. Isn’t it about time the British Government, the FIA, the MSC stepped in and declared an end to it? As Keith points out, neither Silverstone or Donington are selling tickets for next year’s race, and both now have to find the funds to create a venue suitable for Bernies little circus (which must presumably include tall pit-girls)
    How exactly is this helping British Motorsport, or the motorsport industry?
    Please can somebody stamp on Bernie – NOW!

  23. bernie is dumb. a few months ago he was saying how he didn’t care about silverstone and f1 didnt even need it, and thus immediately decided to sign donington even tho they dont have a track ready yet and if they dont get it ready then they just wont hold a race. Bernie should be out, his garbage is really lame.

  24. Aintree has hosted the F1 British Grand Prix five times: 1955, 1957, 1959, 1961 and 1962. 11 non-championship Formula 1 races, known as the Aintree 200, with the last run in 1964. Stirling Moss won his first British F1 at Aintree and was also the first British driver to win a British F1 in a British car a few years later. 150,000 attended one race there.

    F1 racing was stopped there because the course was changing owners and the future not certain. The track is largely still there and still used.

    The top-class spectator facilities now far outstrip any British motor course. Liverpool is far superior than Donnington or Silverstone for transport access and hotels being a World Heritage Site tourist city in most of the city centre. Cruise liners regularly visit the city during the summer months. Liners could acts as hotels for F1 races if need be. Cars will not be allowed near Donnington and access is only via the local rail station. Car parking is no problem at Aintree.

    Aintree hosts the world biggest horse race each year catering for massive crowds – they know how to handle it. The course has its own rapid-transit Merseyrail tube station with direct connection to mainline Lime St station which is two hours from London by Virgin trains. There are two motorways adjacent to the course. An international airport is near with frequent flight to all major European cities, and also a smaller airport near for the event and owners choppers.

    This is a clear lost opportunity for Liverpool, Britain and F1. The city has image world-wide, especially sporting linked. The city also hosts huge football games and international golf events at Hoylake and Birkdale. Two large stadia are to be built. Large sporting events is something common to the city. Upgrading the track and install pits is something that would take little money to get to full F1 standards and British F1 history rekindled.

    Why isn’t the city council, Sefton Council, the Jockey Club and Ecclestones talking. The course could ready in months.

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