The British Racing Drivers’ Club, the owners of Silverstone, must have been smiling a corporate smile of some satisfaction on Monday morning after one of the most successful British Grand Prix meetings in recent memory.
With a capacity 95,000 crowd flooding through the gates of the Northamptonshire circuit, and the grandstands heaving at the seams, it was hard to imagine that this was the last such world championship fixture to be staged at this popular venue. Nor will it be. The news that the Formula One Teams’ Association are hell bent on establishing their own separate championship series means that Silverstone will have an international, world class open-wheeler race in 2010 come what may and whatever Donington might do.
If the British GP comes back to fall in its lap, all well and good. If not, then the fans will be able to come and see Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and all the other top teams contesting a round of the Grand Prix World Cup, or whatever the new series will be called.
Ironically, the proposed split plays into Silverstone’s hands in more far-reaching ways. At the height of an economic depression, and with the nervous commercial uncertainty which surrounds the prospect of an F1 split, the notion of anybody being interested in investing in a new F1 circuit – just 90 miles from Silverstone – would seem to be questionable in the extreme. Particularly as, under the current business arrangements with Bernie Ecclestone and CVC Capital Partners, the TV rights, trackside advertising and corporate hospitality revenues are all swept out of the clutches of the track owners.
Silverstone looked trim, tidy and well maintained as it went into the British Grand Prix weekend. And on Sunday afternoon there was a palpable buzz about the place which signalled optimism and confidence about the future. And Mr Ecclestone has clearly had a welcome change of mind.