And so the British Grand Prix saga grinds ever onwards with Donington Park boss Simon Gillett getting another 14 days to try and rescue his funding for next year’s British Grand Prix. However, the anti-Silverstone tone which has been such an integral element of Bernie Ecclestone’s persona in recent years softened substantially yesterday.
Bernie, the F1 commercial rights holder, dismissed reports that Donington had been permitted extra time, explaining that they simply had the statutory 14 day period provided in the contract to remedy the breach. It is as simple as that.
“We haven’t decided to give Gillett another deadline at all,” Ecclestone told the Daily Telegraph. “We have informed him he is in breach of contract. The contract which we have gives him 14 days to remedy the breach. Most business contracts are like that.”
Ecclestone also denied that he or his companies were interested in taking equity in Donington after the Citigroup banking organisation reputedly raised £120m of the required cash, with the remaining £25-£30m supposedly coming from an independent investor.
“I can tell you we’re not taking any equity,” he said, confirming that Silverstone would be offered the same 17 year deal which Donington signed last year in the event of Gillett proving unable to raise the necessary funding.
The reality, of course, is that the BRDC, the owners of Silverstone, are now in a position to dictate terms to Ecclestone in the sense that if he wants a British Grand Prix to remain on the calendar then he has to do business with the track which hosted the very first world championship GP back in 1950.
Damon Hill, the BRDC president, has said for a long time that Silverstone is ready, willing and able to continue staging the British GP. But they want a deal longer than a single year. The only lingering question is if a 17 year deal makes proper sense either.