BRDC surprised by Donington news
|By Pablo Elizalde
||Friday, July 4th 2008, 16:36 GMT
Silverstone owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club, said on Friday they were surprised to hear the news that Donington will be hosting the British Grand Prix from 2010 onwards.
In a joint statement on Friday, FIA president Max Mosley and Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone announced a 10-year deal with Donington, putting an end to months of speculation about the future of the British Grand Prix.
The BRDC, who had been in talks with Ecclestone for months, expressed their disappointment and surprise at the announcement, as they reckon the British race belongs in Silverstone, scene of the first Formula One grand prix.
"Our efforts outside of the track have seen major infrastructure improvements and co-ordination with local authorities and the emergency services to ensure a world-class event with minimal disruption for the local community," said the BRDC in a statement.
"A number of teams and drivers have praised Silverstone this week so, as you can imagine, it is extremely disappointing to receive the news, at this time, that FOM has signed an agreement with Donington Park.
"The BRDC and Silverstone set out on a campaign to retain the British Grand Prix some time ago. One major positive is that the FIA and FOM have at last acknowledged the importance of a British Grand Prix on the F1 calendar.
"Silverstone remains in a unique position of being able to host a British Grand Prix, both today and in the future. We also firmly believe that it is the right venue to continue hosting the event beyond 2009 when our current agreement expires.
"British motor racing has long been on the map, with Silverstone at its heart. We already have an active plan to fund and build the facilities FOM asked us to deliver. We are therefore surprised by today's announcement, given that both FOM and the FIA are well aware of how advanced those plans are."
Ecclestone had threatened repeatedly to remove the race from the calendar if Silverstone was not upgraded.
The BRDC said the development plans were progressing well and insisted they will push forward with the upgrades despite today's announcement.
"We have recently embarked on a massive process of redevelopment at the circuit which played host to the first ever World Championship British Grand Prix in 1950," added the BRDC.
"Planning permission has been secured from the two District Councils responsible for Silverstone, for a new Pit and Paddock complex, as well as an impressive range of improvements to the circuit and facilities.
"A tremendous amount of work has gone in to get Silverstone to the position where it is teed up to become a world leading centre for motorsport, business, leisure and technology.
"The planned redevelopment will make Silverstone not only one of the best motor sports venues in the world, but also add a range of additional facilities for high-tech industry, education and initiatives for the benefit of the local community.
"Our aim is to continue in our endeavours to ensure that the UK remains a world leader in motorsport, whilst Silverstone maintains its position as a major regional and national employer.
"Running a Grand Prix is an extremely difficult and complex operation. Donington Park has an immense challenge ahead but we wish them luck."
BRDC president Damon Hill was critical of the timing of the announcement, with the British Grand Prix celebrating its 60th anniversary this weekend.
"The timing of this announcement is disappointing and a blow to the excellent and hard working staff of Silverstone, and to the local and national government authorities who have supported us in our development plans to deliver the demanded improvements from FOM," Hill said.
"It is my opinion that it is not through any lack of effort on behalf of the BRDC and Silverstone that we have been denied the opportunity to see those plans though to the concluding of a contract for the Formula One Grand Prix beyond 2009.
"I am looking forward to a great GP this weekend and await developments regarding the future."