MAY 7, 2007
Nigel making plans for Bernie
Nigel Mansell returned to racing at the weekend, finishing seventh in a Ferrari (which he shared with Chris Niarchos) in the FIA GT event. This naturally drew some attention and Mansell was happy to expound a little.
"I think it would be wonderful if Bernie Ecclestone ended up buying the whole thing and doing something very special at Silverstone," Mansell said, when asked by The Daily Telegraph about the future of the British Grand Prix. "He is the only person who could afford to do that. It would cost a lot of money but Bernie is the godfather of motor sport. The power of Bernie and the influence of Bernie is absolute. His success has been instrumental to the sport. He's a great businessman. Silverstone have been their own biggest enemy by not investing in the infrastructure. It should be a shop window for motor sport worldwide."
Silverstone has a contract to run the race until 2009 but will then lose the race unless major changes are made. The British Racing Drivers' Club, led by Damon Hill, is working to achieve that while there has been at least one bid to buy the track.
Silverstone has improved a great deal in recent years but is still way behind in terms of facilities compared to most (but not all) of the current F1 tracks. It is considerably better than some of the older flyaway races, notably Canada and Brazil, but they survive because of their strategic importance to the sport.
In all probability Silverstone will also survive as the FIA protects certain F1 races that have been deemed important to the sport, but there is also little doubt that Ecclestone will continue to push for higher standards at the track.
There may be some people in the Middle East who would argue that Ecclestone is the only person who can afford Silverstone as it would be logical to assume that Dubai's Union Properties, which has the right to create F1-branded theme parks around the world, might be looking at Silverstone as a suitable venue for its European park.
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