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GP Week : Issue 18
APOLOGIES for a touch of stereotyping here, but maybe this move to Donington Park isn’t a bad idea after all. C’mon hear me out on this… Being 100 miles or so to the North of Silverstone, Donington has a far higher chance of attracting rain, and the one thing that this year’s British Grand Prix has taught us is that racing in wet conditions is a great spectacle. So much so that I’d vote for a Grand Prix in Atlantis based on what we witnessed this weekend! On a more serious basis, though, the argument for and against a new venue for the British Grand Prix has been heard constantly over the course of the weekend. In fact if my eyes didn’t deceive me, weren’t Sir Jackie Stewart and Bernie Ecclestone having a frank exchange of views on the subject on the grid moments before the start? By the looks of it Sir Jackie wasn’t convinced with Bernie’s reasoning, but his logic is strong. Silverstone and, more specifically, the BRDC have had many years to redevelop facilities that while by no means the worst on the calendar, are starting to look a little shabby when the sun isn’t shining. Even Interlagos built a new stand last year. At Silverstone the main straight seating is still a temporary structure and open to the elements. Work has been done around the edges, but was the final straw the opening of the new BRDC members’ clubhouse at Brooklands? Was that the moment that Bernie decided enough was enough? We’d all be naive to assume the Donington deal happened overnight. The news, and in particular the timing of it, was a huge blow to Damon Hill and his team, who were justifiably angry when I spoke to them on Friday. In my mind Damon has done a terrific job to unite the BRDC members and gain support from the local councils for the redevelopment scheme. He did all he could but was defeated as a result of what went on before his Presidency, coupled with a complete lack of support from top level government. Formula 1 is not exactly a vote winner though and I can understand why the politicians aren’t prepared to come to the circuit’s rescue. But who is backing Donington? Where is the money coming from? When does the building work start, how will the current track layout change and, more importantly, will the fans still be charged £6 (US$12) for a cheeseburger in 2010? (Silverstone prices certainly don’t seem to be a victim of the credit crunch!) So much needs to happen before the British Grand Prix can settle into its new home that I’ll believe it’s real only when we turn up. But the headline news is that the race seems to be secure… for another 10 years as well. That’s good news for us Brits, although it’s a shame that one of the best tracks to drive on will no longer have the best cars racing on it. So Long Silverstone – but what about the burgers? DaviD Croft BBC f1 Commentator o p in io n GPWEEK OPINION >> 24