On the future of Silverstone

If Bernie Ecclestone had planned a bid to save himself being blamed for the demise of the British Grand Prix, he could hardly have come up with a better package than the one presented by the mysterious Brand Synergy Ltd, which even includes someone with enough profile to give the story the necessary "spin" to make it into the famous British tabloid newspapers. "Our Nige saves the Grand Prix" is made for them.

The announcement puts the BRDC back in the hot seat because the club cannot easily reject what appears to be the perfect solution to the problem of the British GP, while at the same time leaving it with no way out except finding a similar deal.

However, we have yet to see the colour of Brand Synergy's money as none of those involved (even Mansell) has the kind of money needed to fund a Formula 1 Grand Prix for seven years. Two racing ex-drivers, a veteran racing photographer and a previously invisible "entrepreneur" do not add up to multi-millions of dollars unless, of course, they have been along to see their banks managers and been very persuasive. The involvement of Quintain Estates and Development plc obviously helps matters but public companies have to be very careful where they invest $250m for fear of upsetting the all important shareholders, who may prefer dull old developments in Nottingham rather than glamorous and expensive deals involving old airfields.

Silverstone may be a gold mine about to happen but, based on Quintain's other projects, it sounds as though a lot of offices and apartments are going to have to be built onsite in order to raise the kind of money which Silverstone will need to pay Formula One Management in the years ahead.

And, of course, to make the whole thing truly viable they are going to need to have plans going beyond seven years. And one can foresee that in seven years from now the 81-year-old Mr. Ecclestone will undoubtedly be asking rather more each year for his races, with a 10% hike every 12 months because if he sees the money available, he is going to go for it.

On paper Brand Synergy works but then again one might argue that Interpublic thought it had hit the jackpot some years ago.

Time, as ever, will tell as the smoke clears.

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