Donington may have to share British GP - Motor Racing - Sport - The Independent

Donington may have to share British GP

Ecclestone warns shortfall in funding may steer race back to Silverstone

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone has warned that if the Donington circuit fails to get its funding in place to host the British Grand Prix next year, it may have to share the race with its current home, Silverstone.

It would not be the first time that the British Grand Prix has alternated between two circuits. Hosting rights for the race rotated annually between Silverstone and Brands Hatch for over 20 years until 1986.

And it could be the only way in which Donington is able to host the race since the Leicestershire venue needs to find £80 million to make modifications so that F1 races can take place on the 86-year-old circuit.

"If they don't do it, Donington will get together with Silverstone," Ecclestone (pictured below) told The Independent on Sunday. He added that Silverstone itself also needs to make improvements in order to host F1 next year. "If Silverstone do all the things they promised me they are going to do, we are going to be at Silverstone."

Donington has only ever hosted one F1 race, in 1993, and without the £80m it will not be able to make changes to the circuit which are crucial to getting a grand prix licence. Ecclestone has given Donington a September deadline to get the development on track but the economic downturn and the turmoil in the sport have made it an uphill struggle.

The race promoter, Donington Ventures Leisure (DVL), is majority-owned by the software entrepreneur Simon Gillett and his business partner, property developer Paul White, and they plan to raise the required funding from corporate guests buying annual high-level hospitality passes. In the current economic climate this plan seems fanciful.

In recent weeks there have also been threats that F1's top teams may leave the sport due to a dispute over next year's regulations. This uncertainty makes it even less likely that DVL will gather enough bookings to fund its development.

Resources are running short with the company's latest accounts showing that it had just £28 in the bank at the end of 2007. Even if it does get its funding in place by September it may still need to alternate with Silverstone. A spokeswoman for DVL said: "We will discuss financial issues when we are ready and have nothing further to comment at this time."

Most grands prix break even and if they make a loss it is covered by the government of the host country. However, Britain's is the only race which has no state support and so if DVL starts its F1 contract with an £80m loss, it could struggle to cover it. If it has a one-year breather between races, it can host events which are more profitable than F1 in order to build up a reserve of funding.

However, one obstacle standing in the way of rotating the circuits is Damon Hill, president of the British Racing Drivers' Club, which owns Silverstone. "I am not in favour of rotating it. I think it's an insult," he said. "It's another absurd step to try and squeeze as much profit and as much benefit for the commercial rights-holder. It's not a long-term strategy."

Hill added: "I'm in favour of the contract for the British Grand Prix being negotiated with Silverstone because I don't believe that the Donington project is viable."

However, even if Hill agrees to the race rotating with Donington, it may still not secure the future of the British Grand Prix. The German Grand Prix has been alternating between Hockenheim and the Nürburgring since 2007 but the race is now in jeopardy. This is because it is not breaking even but instead making losses which are tough to cover even with the benefit of a one-year breather.

Ticket sales for the race at Hockenheim have slumped 37 per cent since 2002 and last year it made a €5.3m (£4.6m) loss. Hockenheim officials are struggling to find the resources needed to hold the 2010 race, with the circuit's local city and state officials refusing to bankroll it.

"Without grants from the state there will be no more Formula One in Hockenheim," said the circuit's managing director, Karl-Josef Schmidt, in December last year.

Ecclestone and the German minister Günther Oettinger, premier of the southern state of Baden-Württemberg where Hockenheim is located, were scheduled to meet last weekend to try to renegotiate the race fee for the track, which currently stands at $21.5m (£13.1m). However, these talks were cancelled after Ecclestone made his controversial comments about Adolf Hitler.

With doubts about the future of the race in Hockenheim, there were hopes that the Nürburgring could replace it. But even these have hit the wall. "Definitely we are not available for next year, we are planning only for 2011," says Walter Kafitz, managing director of the Nürburgring, adding that only a reduction in the race fee would change his stance. "Bernie could manage it [by reducing the fee], but I cannot imagine that he is willing to accept my wish."

Schmidt ominously adds that soon only countries in the Middle East will be able to afford F1 unless the race fees decrease: "Formula One will disappear not just from Hockenheim but from Germany as a whole," he said. "Then it will only be run in Arab countries."

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week