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Bernie says “Show me the money”, Donington says “We will”
Bernie says “Show me the money”, Donington says “We will”
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Aug 2009   |  10:03 am GMT  |  11 comments

Donington appears on the draft F1 calendar for 2010 on July 11th as the home of the British Grand Prix, but the next hurdle it has to overcome next month is to prove to F1’s commercial rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone, that it has the funding to run the race.

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Recycling a quote from a couple of months ago, I’ll remind you of what Bernie said about Donington to Bob McKenzie of the Daily Express, “They have got until the end of September to produce a bank guarantee and their contract depends on that. If they don’t, it’s adios amigos.”

“I’m hoping Donington… do all the things they must do. And if they can’t, we will come back to Silverstone.”

Donington’s Simon Gillett is here in the Spa paddock and he told me this morning that everything is on target and that he will reveal the funding plan in the first weeks of September. However he has twice given deadlines by which time he would reveal the circuit’s funding plans and on both occasions no news has been forthcoming. Goldman Sachs pulled out in March, but Gillett says that he now has two banks willing to fund the debenture scheme.

The building programme had fallen a little behind schedule, but Gillett says that McAlpine is now flat out on it and, in his words, “You will be with us.” The July 11th date is not set in stone, apparently. It is the same day as the football World Cup final, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as the football will start at 6pm UK time, and may be shown on a big screen at the race track.

Silverstone has already offered the most that they can afford to pay and this wasn’t enough to secure the deal in competition with Donington last time. However the BRDC members recently voted to invite investors and there are some signs of behind the scenes activity at Silverstone in preparation for hosting a race next year should Donington fail to convince Ecclestone.

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“Gillett says that McAlpine is now flat out on it”

Pitpass website today showing 6 photographs of work in progress at Donington, two pieces of earth-moving equipment, lots of mud, no sign of people working.

Doesn’t sound very “flat out” does it?


No, but you will agree it looks very flat…


Yes James, very flat….


Drop the British GP altogether. Silverstone is all geared up for VIPs and not the general ‘real’ fans. Spa or Germany are a much better place I went to nurburgring in 1999 for the first time and never looked back.


British motorsport needs a British Grand Prix; and British fans too. How long will the current level of TV coverage and interest last without a home race?

But I do agree that Silverstone could improve the VIP-punter balance.


that’s probably bernie’s fault rather than silverstones tho? i wouldn’t be surprised if bernie put it in the deal, as silverstone only recoup their hosting fees through punters tickets – bernie gets all the VIP money.


It would be a great shame if the British Grand Prix was shelved. There is no greater enthusiasm from the spectators, except at Monza, but they only come to watch the red cars.

Silverstone can always improve (paving the rough gravel paths for instance), but they are prevented from making the investment by the massive fee that Bernie demands. This is killing the goose that lays the golden egg, because Silverstone delivers on the spectacle. The drivers and fans enjoy the circuit and it is far easier to get to than Donington.

One thing I want to know is how are Donington going to cope with the mass of air traffic arriving within the event perimeter?

Silverstone copes with this marvellously, precisely because the venue was an airfield. Donington has a commercial airport on their doorstep with restricted airspace, but you cannot expect VIPs to fly to the airport and then bus to the venue!


JA, what happened to the Korean GP? wasnt it supposed to be for 2010?


I went to the MotoGP at Donnington and had a hospitality ticket, and thus had infield parking. We decided not to bolt directly after the MotoGP and let the traffic calm a little. We left at 5:15 (1hr 15mins after the MotoGP event finished). We drove across the infield to the tunnel at gate 10. We then queued…. for 4 and half hours within the circuit. It was getting dark, and they then decided to send us all the way around the track and out of the paddock exit, all the cars were gone (keeping in mind it was still at least 25% full when we left as the support races hadn’t finished). So to get back to Loughborough where we stayed (about 7 miles) took an almighty 5 &1/2 hours. Perhaps it’s ironic that you pay more for hospitality then they proceed to let every tom dick & harry out before you. I ended up having a full on argument with the security guard doing the traffic, but he wasn’t for helping, insisting that he was using a ‘ratio’ to measure the traffic. That ratio meant we couldn’t get out in a sensible timescale.

Donington can’t host an F1 race, they can’t cope with MotoGP and bikers (which make up at least 20% of people there) can get out easily to begin with so there’s nothing like the number of cars you’ll see for an F1 event.

Great race, decent hospitality all let down by utterly useless traffic management. I’m not be going back, and won’t recommend Donington to all but my worst enemies.

Fingers crossed they balls it up and Silverstone get the GP again, because although I’m nearer to Donington and prefer the track for racing Silverstone can manage the event properly.


My experience of bigger Donington events has been similar. The road infrastructure around the circuit is quite poor and cannot cope with these, never mind an F1 GP. I recall Silverstone was criticised for this problem too and (eventually) improved significantly.

Mind you, will there be sufficient parking anyway? And if it rains, well, remember that lovely Silverstone day in May?


I am still praying that the money doesn’t appear and Silverstone retains the GP. I go every year to the British GP and the two people I go with (one is the driver!) both are adamant they do NOT want to go to Donington and I think we’re looking at other venues like Spa instead.

The thing I will miss about Silverstone is the fantastic nightlife – camping in Windmill farm, walking down the lane to the White Horse and the great atmosphere down there (I already miss the great fish and chips the Church used to put on until they stopped in 2000/2001 I think it was). To be a success Donington needs campsites like Windmill – basic farms, a good village in walking distance with great pubs and locals who embrace the GP. That’s what made Silverstone so loved.

My friend who goes to the Moto GP at Donington said it looks a total mess and they’re destroying his favourite circuit.

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