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Ecclestone and Silverstone

I see Bernie has being having a go at Silverstone and its owners, the BRDC again. Apparently, he is fed up with the BRDC never managing to fulfill its promises regarding redevelopment of the circuit.

Damon Hill

Damon Hill, president of the BRDC

As usual, the problem is funding the work necessary to bring Silverstone up to modern standards for F1 tracks. Noises are made about the possibility of government assistance but this is the UK we’re talking about – since when did a British government donate public money to a project as popular as keeping the British Grand Prix?

F1 Fanatic has an interesting proposal that might ensure Silverstone’s survival: that Bernie himself buy the track and spend a few of his many millions in bringing it up to date. Since Bernie has already invested in the Turkish Grand Prix circuit (and thereby ensured its existence for years to come), it seems reasonable that he should do the same for a circuit as loved and historic as Silverstone.

Now there would be a marriage made in the corridors of power, if not in heaven – the two Stones coming together in a union of bliss for the foreseeable future. But it’s the Silver that might get in the way; Bernie did not become rich by investing in lost causes and I’m not at all sure he would be interested in throwing his loot at such a big project as Silverstone. The Turkish circuit is almost brand new and does not need much cash to keep it up to par; Silverstone needs several fortunes to turn it into the glitzy venue that Bernie wants.

Yeah, I tried very hard to get in a quip about Eccles cakes but failed – see if you can do better…

So it remains to be seen whether Silverstone will survive yet again through its annual crisis. But there is one point in all this that I have not seen mentioned yet. Amongst all the cheers for Bernie’s purchase of the Turkish circuit, I detected no pondering upon the matter of a conflict of interests. Surely that must occur if the man who says yes or no to prospective GPs also owns one or two of them? How likely is he to cut out his own GP if it fails to come up to spec? And are not other circuit owners entitled to query his impartiality as a result?

It is not that I think Bernie would do anything underhand or that I want to see the future of some circuits threatened because they can’t get funding from Bernie. I am just interested and wondering why the matter has not been raised before. Call me awkward or a pot-stirrer – that would fit well enough.

5 Responses to “Ecclestone and Silverstone”

  1. The issue should have come up before – Bernie owned Spa for a few years before selling it on. The lack of development Bernie put in was such that the new organiser found itself struggling to fund the upgrades. In the end, that caused the 2006 removal from the Spa calender. If you believe Bernie will upgrade Silverstone if he gets his hands on it, the lessons of history suggest otherwise.

    There is a clear conflict of interest in Bernie’s actions, and given Bernie’s track record of manipulating any contest he gets his hands on to extract the last bit of money, I am sure it will come into play. Discounted track fees, reduced development requirements (though not safety – that’s the FIA’s department and it cannot afford to play favourites) and overlooking obvious flaws will occur. As will the inevitable re-sale to some foolish “investor” before the contract runs out.

    The BRDC may not have upgraded the track as promised, but we all know that this is due to expected funding streams not coming through. That’s why cheaper things like the club house and junior motor sport series have been upgraded in the last few years instead. Some countries have to operate in the real economy, not Bernie-economy. At least the BRDC has proper excuses for its actions – unlike Bernie who wrongfully took the race rights away in 2004 because he’d only been paid once (by the previous promoter) not twice (i.e. the BRDC rightfully refused to pay a bill that had already been paid).

    Bernie may think that in demanding more from the BRDC will get more Silver in his Eccles cakes, but he will most likely find he’s put Stones in instead…

  2. Truly unfortunate…. What a wonderful track to watch a race. Such is the business I guess, the Middle Eastern countries can fork huge sums of money for a race that isn’t that interesting and has no historical appeal.

    Maybe the novelty of F1 will wear off and it wouldn’t be worth it to pay such a massive amount for something few people (in that region) care about and Formula1 will go back to where it belongs- Europe…. a few more races in the states wouldn’t hurt either.

  3. Thanks for that information, Alianora – I was not aware that Bernie once owned Spa. It helps to explain a lot of things, however, and shows what a money-grubbing business F1 has become. I guess when your name is Ecclestone, you can get away with anything.

    And you managed to get the Eccles cakes in! Now I can have my cake and eat it. :)

  4. Yes, Dan, we could do with at least one more GP in the States. As you say, it will probably happen in the long run…

  5. And you managed to get the Eccles cakes in! Now I can have my cake and eat it. {{clive – 2 comments ago}}

    Just make sure there’s nothing hard in it before you do, Clive ;-)

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