NOVEMBER 9, 2009

The British Grand Prix

The discussions over the British Grand Prix remain stuck at the moment with Silverstone having put what it says is its best possible offer to the Formula One group and Bernie Ecclestone saying that the circuit should sign the deal that he wants, which would cost the track more money. The two parties are both trying to position things so as to avoid being blamed should be the negotiations fail. There is nonetheless pressure on Ecclestone from the motorsport industry for a British GP, which is considered to be important for the industry. The British government (or at least the existing British government, as there must be a General Election before June 3 2010) is not interested in helping out. The Labour Party has long avoided being too closely linked with Ecclestone after the 1997 scandal over a donation to the party. It remains to be seen whether the Conservatives will do to help but the signs are that they will take over as polls suggest the party is now well clear in opinion polls with the latest showing the Conservatives at 41%, Labour at 27% and the Liberal Democrats at 17% and under the British first-past-the-post system this would result in a landslide victory for the Conservatives.

However, a solution is need long before that happens and Silverstone says it is unwilling to endanger the economic future of the circuit by agreeing to Ecclestone's terms. He has compromised in Germany, where he has agreed to help Hockenheim, and so arguments that he will not compromise on the fees are slightly hollow.

One way in which he could agree to reduce the costs is if the teams agree to a 20th race. This would mean that he could raise more money but could charge two events less. It is rumoured that a deal involving Britain and France might be possible. Both are relatively cheap events for the F1 teams.