AUGUST 14, 2002
Silverstone changes plans
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone was a big success this year although it is hard to see how the race made a profit given the numbers involved. Various attempts to make the sums add up to a success failed to come up with positive results, based on the number of people who attended and the amount of money they were charged.
The only apparent fly in the ointment was Formula One Management boss Bernie Ecclestone, who made some rather caustic remarks about the signage inside the circuit, after an adventurous time trying to get into the track after his helicopter was forced to land unexpectedly because of bad weather.
The three partners in the enterprise: the British Racing Drivers' Club, Octagon Motorsports and Formula One Management have just issued a strange press statement saying that the next phase in the development of the Northamptonshire facility will include better signage inside the circuit, more catering and retail outlets and revamped toilet facilities. The priority, so goes the argument, is for the general public.
It is a nice idea but hidden away in the subtext which states (quietly) that the new pits and paddock complex, media center and race control building will not now be built until 2004. This is interesting and begs a variety of questions: Was the money available redistributed to keep the public happy? The plans mentioned do not add up to a vast amount of money. A few signs, loos and breeze-block retail outlets do not add up to the cost of a major redevelopment such as the pit buildings. The logical conclusion, therefore, is that the next phase of building has been delayed because there is not enough money to do the job.
"Investment and improvements must and will continue," Sir Jackie Stewart, President of the British Racing Drivers' Club, was quoted as saying. "We, Octagon and Formula One Management have taken on board the spectators' comments and want to provide them with the best possible facilities to enjoy every race meeting and event at Silverstone."
The question is why was there a need for the word "must" as well as "will"? Modern press releases are not simply dashed off in a hurry. They are carefully prepared and manicured. If the word "must" is there, it is there for a reason. The implication is that there is some doubt over the money.
"The first phase of re-development of Silverstone has been extremely successful," said Octagon Motorsport boss Les Delano. "We want to continue this good work. We will be working closely with the BRDC and with FOM, to ensure that we continue to provide fully up-to-date facilities for all events staged at Silverstone."
Once again there is an element of the conditional about the quote. Octagon wants to continue the good work and is working to do so. It does not say that the money is there and the work will be done.
On the surface therefore the press release seems to be good news for everyone but there is a message in there somewhere that is not as positive and optimistic.
Perhaps the numbers really did not add up...
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