Bernie and Silverstone

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone 

 © The Cahier Archive

We hear from normally reliable sources that Silverstone may have passed into the control of a Mr Ecclestone, or at least one of the companies in which he has an interest. The circuit is currently owned by the British Racing Drivers' Club which bought the 720-acre old aerodrome from the British government back in 1971. After Brands Hatch won the right to host the British Grand Prix between 2002 and 2006 the BRDC decided that the best course of action would be to do a deal with Brands Hatch's owner Octagon Motorsport and a deal was struck for Octagon to lease Silverstone for 15 years. This deal was completed at the end of 2000. In order to fund the upgrading work needed for there to be a Grand Prix and cement the deal, Octagon and the BRDC entered into an agreement with Formula One Management and the three partners agreed to each invest $20m in Silverstone over a five-year period. But Octagon's grandiose plans for the development of the circuit have not been very successful. Octagon's parent company Interpublic recently said that it recorded a loss of $16.2m this year, largely related to the British GP, and Sean Orr, Interpublic's Chief Financial Officer, said that the firm was "reassessing the composition and structure of our motor sports holdings". The writing was on the wall.

We hear that three other Octagon circuits are up for sale (the company owns Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Cadwell Park and Snetterton) and there have been rumours in recent days that Brands Hatch could be sold for development - a fate which has long been discussed for the Kentish track which is unable to upgrade because of constant complaints from local residents and blocks on planning permission. If Ecclestone has been prevailed upon to buy the lease for Silverstone it can be expected that he will try to either negotiate a longer deal with the BRDC (or perhaps try to buy the circuit outright) and will then invest heavily as he has done in recent years at the Paul Ricard circuit in France.

There has been no official announcement of any kind to date but we await developments with interest.

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