The promoters of the 2010 British Grand Prix at Donington have been given until June 30th to provide the local council with the paperwork it needs in order to get the planning permission signed off so that the race can go ahead.
At a meeting of the North West Leicestershire council this evening it was decided to give the track once last chance to sort out its administrative problems. The promoters, Simon Gillett’s company Donington Ventures Ltd, has been hit with a £2.5 million lawsuit by the circuit’s owners, Wheatcroft and Sons for unpaid rent.
The court hearing for that case is June 8th and the NW Leics council decided today that until that case had been heard it could not act further. After a short meeting they have given them three weeks from the date of the legal hearing to come back with the vital document; a spectator safety document signed by both parties, DVL and Wheatcroft.
This will take them to the week after the final race at Silverstone is due to take place, the weekend of 20/21 June.
So you can be sure that the speculation over whether this may be the last British GP will be in full swing that weekend.
Speaking before tonight’s meeting, Gillett said
“We have a nine-month construction programme and that has never changed. We have always known we could construct everything we have to in nine months but we have the construction in hand. We need to be in a position to roll everything out by July 2009 but we are not panicking yet. We are in in-depth meetings to button down the finances and you should see a resolution on this situation soon.”
It looks very much as though Donington has being given every chance to sort itself out by all parties, despite discouraging signs all around. Gillett says that he is 110% committed and 100% confident the race will happen.
I just wonder at what point political pressure might come to bear on the situation. The government is not likely to put money into F1 infrastructure, but it got involved in the Brawn takeover of the Honda team, applying the right kind of pressure at the vital moment and it may do the same here, when the time comes.
The British Grand Prix is an important event, although less jobs depend on it than they did on the Honda deal, which was the government’s main reason for getting involved there.