MARCH 6, 2008
Damon makes a good point
Damon Hill, the head of the British Racing Drivers' Club, says that Formula 1 needs to retain its traditional venues, such as Silverstone, "to provide a history and prestige" for the sport. Hill says that each country must make its own case, but that Britain is a very valuable market for F1 and he has made the point that the FIA might help him convince Formula One Management that F1 needs to have Silverstone on the F1 calendar, even if that means that Bernie Ecclestone has to make an exception for Silverstone.
Hill knows that in the contract between the FIA and FOM there is a clause that means that certain races enjoy protected status because of their historical significance for the sport. These are believed to include the British, French, Italian and German Grands Prix. The only problem is that the clause only has a value if the FIA chooses to invoke it and insist on there being events in these countries. At the moment Ecclestone is expanding the World Championship outside Europe, arguing that this is the future for the sport, but at the same time is allowing two races in Spain (because there is money available) and pressuring races in Asia and Australia to run their events at night, so they can be seen in Europe. These contradictory arguments suggest that the primary motivation is financial rather than strategic and Ecclestone is obviously hoping that European governments will eventually fund the races, as is the case with the majority of the big events in the Middle East and Asia.
Hill is currently pushing ahead with plans to redevelop Silverstone but knows that even when the work is done it will be hard to meet the demands for race fees.
FIA President Max Mosley traditionally sides with Ecclestone, although the pair fall out from time to time on specific issues.