2001 British Grand Prix gets the green light

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The British Racing Drivers’ Club, owners of Silverstone, have retained next season’s British Grand Prix despite speculation that the event might not happen following this year’s traffic chaos. The World Motor Sport Council announced on 4 October that not only would the 2001 British Grand Prix go ahead, it would also revert back to a traditional July date, having swapped with the Austrian Grand Prix.

Denys Rohan, Chief Executive of Silverstone Circuits Ltd, stated there were 14 courses of action taken by Silverstone which convinced the FIA to confirm the British GP and to switch its date to 15 July. Rohan said: “We had the wettest winter for 260 years, and the wettest April since the year dot. The chances of us having these problems again in July are much less, but we are still planning on the worst-case basis.

“We’ve got support from police in re-planning one-way systems for Sunday morning and we’re currently evaluating plastic matting for the car parks. The likelihood of fog — which prevented the traffic-control helicopters from flying — is less in July than in April.

“When it became clear we needed extra resources, all businesses were closed because it was Easter weekend. It also brought through traffic, and the A43 is one of the busiest roads in the country. It’s easy to now say that we should’ve foreseen some of the problems, but I’m not making excuses: it was awful.

“We will be issuing a number of car passes — 18,000, I think — and everything will be done in advance. There will be no tickets sold on the gate, because that would not allow us to plan.”

In response to the Government’s decision to refer a planning application for the redevelopment of Brands Hatch to a public inquiry, Peter Maurice, Silverstone’s Communications Manager, admitted the 2002 British GP could be run by Brands Hatch Leisure Group Ltd at Silverstone. But he added: “It isn’t even an FIA issue, to all intents and purposes. It’s an issue around contracts with Formula One Management. We’re not surprised Brands Hatch’s plans have been referred to a public inquiry, and we note that major issues need to be resolved before Donington Park meets Fl standards. “It remains our hope — and to some extent, our expectation — that Silverstone will be recognised as the only viable venue for the British GP.”

Denys Rohan echoed Maurice’s confidence, saying: “For sure it will make sense for Bernie, for Max, for us and for BHL, who are sitting with a contract but no venue, while we have a venue and no contract. I strongly believe that commercial common sense will ultimately prevail.” DM