British Grand Prix 'essential' says Donington chief

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The Independent Online

Donington Park chief Simon Gillett insists the retention of the British Grand Prix is essential - whether it be at his Leicestershire circuit or traditional venue Silverstone.

Bosses at Silverstone claim they are close to agreeing a 10-year staging agreement to host Formula One in this country but Gillett, chief executive of Donington Ventures Leisure Limited (DVLL), insists it remains a two-way tussle.

But with F1 rights holder Bernie Ecclestone setting a December 9 deadline for a deal to be done for a British race next summer, time is running out.

Donington's hopes appear all but over with DVLL, the company which leases the Leicestershire circuit, in administration but Gillett revealed serious investors have come forward.

Whatever occurs in the battle of the midlands tracks, however, Gillett said of Britain hosting a race in 2010: "To me, it's bloody essential.

"Personally I think we should have a British Grand Prix and it is a shame that other people within the UK don't agree with that.

"No one is ever looking for a free handout from government but there certainly should be more support from central resources to make sure we have a grand prix.

"It is criminal when you see Wembley receiving £140million free money from the government for what is a very rich man's sport and they will not give a penny to the British Grand Prix whether it is Donington or Silverstone.

"They won't come near the sport, which is a real shame."

Half-a-dozen investors are currently weighing up their options with regard to Donington, according to Gillett, who secured a 17-year contract to host Formula One in July last year only to have the offer withdrawn following failure to secure the £135million funding required to redevelop the site.

"[The money] is not from the traditional places that people might look to," said Gillett.

"The minute you say you are looking for finance, everyone looks to the middle-east and assumes it is from a Saudi prince.

"But ours has come predominantly from mainland Europe and in the UK itself."