OCTOBER 12, 2004
The future of the British Grand Prix
The games over the British Grand Prix have continued with FIA President Max Mosley saying that he wants Silverstone on the Formula 1 calendar.
"It is important to me that our traditional races stay on but that cannot be at any price," said Mosley. "We can't have Bernie (Ecclestone) run an uneconomic event just to keep with tradition but a compromise should be found because it's part of the basis of motorsport. Take that away and you start to undermine the whole structure of Formula 1."
It is not clear exactly how the event would end up being uneconomic from Ecclestone's point of view as the circuits pay most of the costs and the Formula One group takes most of the money but it seems as though Mosley is trying to teeter along a tight rope somewhere between between the views of the world and the views of Ecclestone. The supposed bid for the race by Nigel Mansell and Friends does not seem to have come to much and Ecclestone's offer to promote the race if the BRDC gives him the circuit rent-free is not likely to be accepted by the club as it would be giving away its major asset but would remain liable for the development costs.
The question is therefore whether or not there is an answer to the problem and we did hear one interesting floating around the teams at the weekend in Suzuka: if Ecclestone will not compromise on the British GP, perhaps the F1 teams could run the event without him as a non-championship race. The BRDC could pay the fees that it can afford and the teams could do all the other deals. Obviously as most of the teams are based in Britain it is cheaper to do Silverstone than to do other races.
It was impossible for such an event until the European Union insisted that all documents related to F1 comply with Europe's competition laws and so teams can now compete elsewhere if they wish to do so, similarly it is thought that TV companies have the right to do deals for non-championship events. Sucha move might also provide the GPWC with the opportunity of a show of strength by organizing the event.
It seems at the moment, however, that this is little more than a concept, a bargaining position to ty to force a compromise. In many ways it sounds like the kind of posturing that went on back in the bad old days of the FISA-FOCA War in the early 1980s when the teams did host a couple of their own events.
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