JUNE 20, 2008
News from the Planet Zog
The annual British Grand Prix controversy kicked off on schedule at the French GP with the unlikely tale that Formula 1 will once again be going to Donington Park. This is about as likely to happen as a French Grand Prix in Rouen, but it fills newspaper pages for another day and, presumably, exerts pressure on the authorities at Silverstone to get it together with their rebuild and to agree the financial deal that the Formula One group is seeking.
"We are discussing the possibility of reaching an agreement with Donington to host the British Grand Prix," The Times quoted Bernie Ecclestone as saying. "We are trying to save the British Grand Prix and we want it to be staged at a venue which befits an event of its stature. I‚Äôve been in negotiations for a long time and whether or not we‚Äôre going to do a deal with Donington or Silverstone, I don‚Äôt know. Donington have said they are going to build everything we want. Have they got the money? Only time will tell. But I think there is more chance of Donington having the money than the BRDC."
Given Ecclestone's disaffection with Silverstone with regard to access, facilities, hotels and so on, it is hard to imagine why he thinks Donington is going to be any better as it has all the same problems as Silverstone and is considerably further away from London. Donington held a Grand Prix once (in the modern era), but that was a deal between Ecclestone and circuit owner Tom Wheatcroft. The race was a very makeshift affair but is remembered for a fantastic performance in the inevitable rain by Ayrton Senna.
The idea of Donington may sound feasible but the realities of life in Britain are such that even if the circuit can find the money for a substantial revamp and get the local councils to play for new roads, there will still be years of planning permission to be got through.
The reality is probably that the only option to Silverstone is a semi-permanent circuit on private land.
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