The FIA has announced that from 2010 onwards, the British Grand Prix will be held at the Donington Park circuit in Leicestershire. The announcement has come at the start of the now-penultimate Silverstone-hosted British Grand Prix, and after a continous run of 21 races (41 in total), Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA have decided to secure the country’s race and move the venue. Donington has vowed a £100m investment programme for the track and it will host the British event for at least ten years.
Silverstone has been a popular venue for drivers and fans alike, but in recent years Ecclestone has been very outspoken about the gradual decline in the facilities at the track. While the old airfield is synonymous with British motor sport, the governing body along with FOM feel that with Donington’s planned improvements, the Leicestershire track will offer a more secure future for the UK’s grand prix.
After many years of patient but fruitless negotiation with the BRDC, we are delighted that Bernie has nevertheless been able to ensure that the British Grand Prix will keep its place on the Formula One World Championship calendar.
We understand that the development programme planned for Donington will achieve the very high standards we and FOM expect from a modern F1 circuit. Finally, British Formula One fans will get the Grand Prix venue they deserve. Max Mosley.
We wanted a world class venue for Formula One in Britain, something that the teams and British F1 fans could be proud of. The major development plans for Donington will give us exactly that. A venue that will put British motor sport back on the map. Bernie Ecclestone.
Ecclestone went on to say that he wanted the UK government to support Silverstone with their planned redevelopment and estimated it would have cost about 0.002% of the government’s commitment for the 2021 Olympic Games.
The news must come as a bitter blow to the BRDC, Silverstone’s circuit owners, and their president and former British Grand Prix winner and world champion, Damon Hill. Along with Jackie Stewart and many other British motor sporting alumni, they have tried to negotiate with Ecclestone over the years and plans to improve the circuit were recently submitted to the Northamptonshire authorities for approval. Unfortunately, it seems it was too little, too late.
Donington Park was brought-out last year by Simon Gillett and Lee Gillm, and even back then there was a rumour that they may appraoch Bernie about hosting the British Grand Prix. With investment from a shareholder in the company that owns the track, Donington Park will undergo improvements and development ahead and after its first race in 2010.
At the beginning of last year when we acquired the circuit and its substantial lands, we made clear our commitment towards realising the full potential of the Park by making the necessary investments in current and future events that will see Donington revitalised, ensuring its leading position as one of the most iconic racing circuits in the world. Simon Gillett & Lee Gillm.
The last time a Formula One car was driven in anger at Donington was in 1993; Ayrton Senna blitzed the field on the opening lap in torrential rain and performed one of the greatest laps to have ever been driven in a grand prix car.