F1 News - Silverstone Special Report

Attention focuses on Silverstone and Brands Hatch Much of the news this week has focused on Brands Hatch Leisure and Bernie Ecclestone's deal to run the British Grand Prix at a BHL circuit. Nicola Foulston, boss of BHL, has now withdrawn her...

Attention focuses on Silverstone and Brands Hatch

Much of the news this week has focused on Brands Hatch Leisure and Bernie Ecclestone's deal to run the British Grand Prix at a BHL circuit.

Nicola Foulston, boss of BHL, has now withdrawn her bid for Silverstone Circuits (owned by the BRDC). She now intends to host the race at Brands Hatch. She has been quoted saying 'I have insisted all along that we are interested in buying any race circuit in the world, but we are withdrawing our formal offer to purchase Silverstone. We have a lot of work to do down at Brands Hatch and that's what we will be concentrating on.'

The boss of Silverstone Circuits, Denys Rohan, has welcomed the withdrawal of the bid.

Details of the deal to secure the race are emerging. It appears that BHL have bid £11m ($18m) a year to host the race, rising by 6% pa. This is thought to be about twice the amount paid by Silverstone Circuits. How the extra money is to be paid is unclear, though a steep rise in ticket prices for spectators and for hospitality is thought to be highly likely.

News of the move to Brands Hatch has been mixed. Ron Dennis has called Ms Foulston a 'Piranha' at Monaco last weekend, saying that she was deliberately trying to 'destabilise the situation at Silverstone'.

Jody Schekter, a member of the BRDC who was battling the BRDC about the restructuring has now joined forces with them in their battle against Ms Foulston. He has said that the circuit had an agreement to host the race beyond 2001 with Bernie Ecclestone, and he would support any legal action to keep the race at the circuit.

Meanwhile, Nigel Mansell has welcomed the move to Brands Hatch - a move that will not sit well with fellow BRDC members - 'It is fantastic news. The circuit holds great memories for me'.

Stirling Moss, however, is less enthusiastic -'I think at Silverstone we have run very good races and it would be a shame if the GP goes. Being the most important club there is, I think it would be unfortunate if we did not have it. I would be disappointed.'

Meanwhile, the mud-flinging continues, with Silverstone claiming that Brands Hatch face a major hurdle in getting planning permission for the changes necessary to the circuit. Something that Nicola Foulston hotly denies 'All of these changes are totally consistent with our existing planning permission. We expect it to be passed with problem.' She also claims that the circuit having been in existence for many years gives it precedence over current legislation - something that TwoFour Sports that own Donington Park may well disagree with.

Silverstone Circuits have said that the bid for the GP was a misjudged move by Ms Foulston to force the BRDC to sell Silverstone to her. A spokesman said 'The driving factor behind this deal is Nicola's desire to get her hands on Silverstone. She wants it very much and is getting desperate.'

In an official statement from the BRDC, it said:

"Silverstone is the only circuit currently capable of staging the Grand Prix in Britain. The BRDC is aware of several significant difficulties facing any potential rival.

These difficulties include the cost of a competitive contract, the expense and extent of the reconstruction and investment that would have to be committed by a new entrant, and the complications inherent in gaining the planning approval vital to building a circuit capable of replacing Silverstone."

Meanwhile, Silverstone is also looking at life after F1. Plans to build an oval at the circuit for Champ Cars are being brought out of storage - a move which will not please Bernie Ecclestone. The last thing the FIA wants is for Champ Cars to get a foothold in mainland Europe, especially with plans also afoot for a circuit in Germany.

-- Stephen M Baines http://www.motorsport.org.uk

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Nigel Mansell , Stirling Moss , Bernie Ecclestone