Over the course of the British GP weekend it became apparent that the race will be back at Silverstone after all in 2010 – and possibly beyond.
While the announcement of a breakaway series created the possibility for an event at Silverstone to appear on a FOTA calendar, both Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone made it clear that the door was still open to the UK’s World Championship round if Donington is not ready. The FIA president indicated that, in his personal view, the 2010 race would be held at the Northants track.
Subsequent confirmation that there was to be no split with FOTA meant that all parties could focus on creating a single 2010 calendar. However, it also created a stable environment that will clearly help Simon Gillett’s efforts to generate funding for Donington.
Nevertheless Silverstone remains the favourite to host next year’s race, but whether that is under the current arrangements, or through a deal similar to that with Octagon which sees the facility in effect rented to Ecclestone or Gillett, remains to be seen.
“Hopefully this is the start of things settling down a bit,” BRDC chairman Robert Brooks told Motor Sport. “We’re ready for 2010, and I think Silverstone has never looked better. The important thing is that we retain the British GP and our worry has always been the 2010 race. We’re getting close to resolving something for that now, so our fingers are very much crossed.”
The biggest concern is that planning for next year’s race – and more importantly ticket sales – would normally have begun immediately after this year’s event.
The prospect of the race staying at Silverstone has a lot of support from both the public and the sport’s insiders. “They have to come back,” said Sir Stirling Moss. “For the drivers the circuit is terrific. Donington couldn’t have this sort of infrastructure. It shouldn’t go, and I don’t think it will.”
BRDC director Jackie Oliver is confident that the race will return: “We never wished Donington failure, but there has always been doubt that the work that needed to be done could be completed, and as time has gone by it’s looked like it’s impossible for them to comply. Why Bernie didn’t want to return to Silverstone has always been a mystery to us. The circuit is not the best in the world, but it’s far from being the worst, as indicated by Bernie.
“I question why he thinks Silverstone is not capable of continuing on after the successful GP here. Silverstone has shown that it’s ready and capable, but it has to be on commercial terms. And it depends on the size of the gate, and how much the F1 fee is.”