Silverstone circuit organisers have lost the battle to retain the British Grand Prix which will be hosted at Donnington Park from 2010, the FIA announced on Friday.
The Silverstone-owning British Drivers’ Racing Club (BRDC) has been locked in negotiations with commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone for several months to renew the contract to host the grand prix which expires in 2009.
In a shock announcement on the eve of the 60th British Grand Prix, FIA President Max Mosley announced: “After many years of patient but fruitless negotiation with the BRDC, we are delighted that Bernie has nevertheless been able to ensure that the British Grand Prix will keep its place on the Formula One World Championship calendar.
“We understand that the development programme planned for Donington will achieve the very high standards we and FOM expect from a modern F1 circuit. Finally, British Formula One fans will get the Grand Prix venue they deserve.”
While ambitious £30 million plans to redevelop Silverstone as the UK’s premier motorsport venue were approved earlier in the year a pre-requisite for securing the contract a five year contract to host the GP appeared to be dependent on the redevelopment beginning, something which looked unlikely to happen until the commercial contract had been tied down.
“Finally the uncertainty is over,” declared F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone. “A contract has been signed with Donington Park and the future of the British Grand Prix is now secure.”
“We wanted a world class venue for Formula One in Britain, something that the teams and British F1 fans could be proud of. The major development plans for Donington will give us exactly that. A venue that will put British motor sport back on the map.
“I am sorry that we could not have helped Silverstone to raise the money to carry out the circuit improvements and run Formula One. I believe that the government should have supported them which would have cost probably less than .002% of the government’s commitment for the Olympic Games.”
Donnington Park’s owners meanwhile have agreed to fund a five-year £100 million programme to develop the Leicestershire circuit as part of it’s new 10-year-deal to host the British Grand Prix.
“We are naturally delighted and extremely proud to have acquired the rights to bring Formula One back to Donington Park from 2010,” said Donnington Park owners and joine CEO’s Simon Gillett and Lee Gill.
“At the beginning of last year when we acquired the circuit and its substantial lands, we made clear our commitment towards realising the full potential of the Park by making the necessary investments in current and future events that will see Donington revitalised, ensuring its leading position as one of the most iconic racing circuits in the world.
“To that end, we have now entered a new and exciting chapter in the development of the Park and one that will bring significant investment and regional development while securing the future of one of the most important and significant sporting events in Britain.”