Guest Author - Christine Blachford
In the midst of the 2008 Silverstone Grand Prix, Bernie Ecclestone decided the time was right to announced the future of the British race. Silverstone has not been a favourite of his for a while now, and finally he has got round to booting it off the calendar. In its place, he named Donington Park as the host from 2010.
Whilst Silverstone may be crumbling slightly around the edges, Donington Park certainly isn't up to the standard required to hold a Formula 1 race... yet. Planning permission was granted this week for the circuit to undergo a £100 million overhaul, improving the track and facilities greatly.
So what does it take to hold an F1 race? Organisers at Donington Park are having to spend on the track itself - reprofiling some of the corners, and bringing the entire circuit up to the safety standard required. The facilities are also being updated, with a state of the art medical centre, plus a new pit and paddock complex.
Work has already started, now that planning permission has been approved, and the schedule is very tight. Bernie Ecclestone intends to inspect the site in September of this year to make sure things are progressing in time for the Grand Prix itself. They have about 18 months to get the entire thing completed, but circuit boss Simon Gillett believes it's entirely possible. He has complete faith that everything will be done in time and the event will go off without a hitch, however the rest of the paddock are not so sure.
Ron Dennis spoke about the new circuit at the Autosport International trade show, and whilst he wasn't worried about the building work, he couldn't understand how the economics would work. He also couldn't fathom the idea the Park has confirmed - they want everyone to get to the track by public transport, no cars allowed.
It will be a constant battle for Donington Park to convince us that they have what it takes to hold the race. Many fans say they won't believe it until they see it. I hope they do because Bernie won't return to Silverstone now, and if Donington can't host the British GP, perhaps there won't be one one the calendar at all.
Please visit the forums to leave your thoughts on the subject. Will Donington make it on time?