Ecclestone gives Donnington more time

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The Independent Online

Donington Park boss Simon Gillett has been given a final two-week ultimatum by Bernie Ecclestone to resolve his financial issues or risk losing the British Grand Prix.

Gillett, the CEO of Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd, is understood to be in breach of contract with Formula One supremo Ecclestone as three deadlines over the past two weeks have all come and gone.



With just eight months to go before Donington is due to stage the race, time is fast running out on Gillett to carry out the multi-million pound upgrade required to turn the venue into a F1-ready circuit.



After acquiring a 17-year contract from Ecclestone in a shock coup last year, Gillett has since been plagued with financial problems, with the latest believed to surround backers Citigroup.



That culminated in what was being seen as a make-or-break meeting today between Gillett and Ecclestone, resulting in the 78-year-old offering the former one final chance to get his house in order.



Following the meeting, Gillett said: "We can confirm that Donington Ventures Leisure Limited has another two weeks from today to further demonstrate our credentials for hosting the British Grand Prix and to provide full information regarding our financial backing and construction timescales.



"We have made great strides in recent weeks and greatly appreciate the additional time allowed to us to finalise the information for public distribution in what has been a much more difficult than anticipated economic climate.



"We appreciate the British public's growing frustration with regard to uncertainty that has been cast over the country's largest and most successful motorsport event.



"But we remain committed to delivering on the promises we made at the start of this process and have the interests of the sport and its fans at heart."



Although work at Donington has begun, the extensive reconstruction required in extending and widening the track, building a new pit and paddock complex and media and medical centres, would suggest they are facing mission impossible.



The additional fortnight's grace will only add to the frustration of Silverstone chiefs who have been waiting patiently in the wings for Ecclestone to give them the nod they can stage one of British sport's crown jewels after previously hosting the event for the last 23 years.



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