The Fate of Donington Park

During coverage of Friday Practice for the F1 British Grand Prix, Speed TV reported that this may be the last time Formula One is held at Silverstone for some time. According to Bob Varsha, Speed TV commentator, Donington Park has signed an agreement with Bernie Ecclestone to host the British F1 Grand Prix for ten years, following a 100 million dollar update to the facility. F1 was last held at Donington Park in 1993.

The British Racing Drivers' Club, the entity that owns Silverstone, has not been on good terms with Ecclestone for some time, and while the club is apparently doing everything within reason to keep F1 at their track, they have been unable to come to terms with Ecclestone.

Peter Windsor commented that Donington has committed to a Hermann Tilke refit of the circuit to make it suitable for Formula One. MotoGP fans will be familiar with other Tilke projects, such as the tracks at Shanghai, Sepang, and Istanbul. Windsor proposed that one of the problems with keeping Silverstone on the F1 calendar from Ecclestone's perspective is that Silverstone has not used Tilke for any modifications.

David Hobbs responded by saying that Silverstone, as is it, is "better than a lot of Herman Tilke circuits, that's for dead sure."

Last month during the MotoGP weekend at Donington, there was talk of something like this happening, and many were concerned for MotoGP's future there if the facility were to be modified for F1. Donington still has a modest feel; the sponsors on the buildings that line the section before Redgate are mainly local companies, not the giant corporations who sponsor the Formula One money machine. The track itself has a fantastic section including the run from Hollywood, through the Craner Curves, to the Old Hairpin, and the right hander at Coppice is exciting to watch. There is no telling what Tilke will do to these sections, or if they will survive as we know them.

Fans of the track itself my have mixed feelings about an update to the facility as a whole, especially those individuals who took hours to get out of the fields they parked in an onto one of the few paved roads back to the motor way. Donington has limited access, all of it on narrow, two lane roads, and how such access will be expanded to accommodate the larger paddock requirements and larger attendance on race weekends is likely to meet stiff opposition from the area residents and environmental groups.

From a MotoGP perspective, this almost certainly spells the end of Donington as the home of the British Grand Prix, at least as we know it, if not entirely. 



Speed TV British F1 GP broadcast

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Doninton needs money spent on it in some areas. (the road access as you mentioned). But the kind of face lift this sounds like could change it compltely. Maybe it will be an improvement, but I'm not optimistic.

Probably end up with three tiers of fencing that no one can take photos through.

If MotoGP does move from there then I hope they talk to Brands Hatch.

Trepidation, good word to describe the way I'm looking at this too dodgyempire.

If, as it's hard to believe it won't be, the track is ruined. Then no matter if we find a good place to race our sport will still have lost yet another venue with character and excitment to F1 modernisation.

I suppose change is inevitable but does it have to be change for the worse?

I guess if they can keep the layout of the fast sweeping parts of the circuit everyone is fond of and just add to that. We might get lucky. Tilke did create Istanbul and a lot of us liked that. Me included.

I guess we can only cross our fingers.

Just out of interest as I never worked it out. Why did they change Assen a couple of years back? What was wrong with it? It doesn't seem to have been any safer since, if that was the reason. Yet it doesn't feel quite as impressive a place now, still good races but it feels diminished to me in some way.

 Regarding Assen, at the moment I'm watching the 2006 season review, and as the Assen section begins, they show a helicopter shot of the old northern loop, having just been plowed over to make room for a hotel, more parking, and who knows what else. Looks like it was money, rather than safety. And I agree, it just isn't the same.

I wanted to point out that F1 is scheduled to be at Silverstone in 2009, just as MotoGP is scheduled to be at Donington in 2009, so whatever changes are in the future will take place in 2010.

Was reading a piece at the BBC and another at autosport -

Doesn't sound so bad after all as Tilke isn't getting his hands on much of the current track.

Apparently everything from the current start/finish to the exit of the Melbourne Loop should remain the same. Instead of joining Goddards after that. There'll be a big half mile loop joining back onto the current start/finish straight.