There were those who said back in the Summer of 2008 that Donington’s surprise award of the British Grand Prix would never come to pass.
Too ambitious they said, too little time to turn the appealingly quaint circuit next to the East Midlands Airport into a venue fit for the premier tier of four-wheeled motorsport.
Well, as it transpired, they were correct, although the major global recession probably contributed more than anything to the demise of Donington’s dream of once more hosting Formula One racing.
Whilst we were sorry to be saying goodbye to Silverstone, F1’s traditional permanent home in the UK since 1987, we did want Donington to succeed as they seemed to be putting so much time, effort and funding into a project which they assured us would result in state of the art facilities and an exciting circuit for Bernie’s circus to come and play at in the Summer.
Alas, as we all now know, the aforementioned recession did for Donington’s plans what it had done for Lehman Brothers, Woolworths and the entire Icelandic banking system and after some to-ing and fro-ing between the British Racing Drivers Club and Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Administration it was looking likely that an insurmountable impasse was the end result of the tentative negotiations.
With the two sides entrenched, motor racing fans started to fear the worst as deadlines were mentioned and alternative venues around the world lined up to fill Britain’s gap in the F1 calendar. One enterprising ‘Tweeter’ even went so far as to start a #savethebritishgrandprix ‘hashtag’ to spread the word of the potential end of Britain’s unbroken run of hosting Grands Prix.
Well, today after much muttering and leaked internet rumours on forums, Twitter and various other social networking websites, a delighted UK motorsport community got the news that they so desperately wanted – Silverstone would, after all, be hosting the British Grand Prix in 2010 and for the next 16 years after that.
It seems that after much hard bargaining and promises to comprehensively update the circuit and its facilities, common sense has prevailed and the race is to remain at its spiritual home for the forseeable future.
In awarding a contract for such a relatively long period, Ecclestone has finally given the BRDC the stability it needs to raise the neccessary funds to update and enhance Silverstone – something even the most diehard fan of the Northampton circuit would admit is a well-overdue requirement.
So, with one piece of the jigsaw well and truly in place for next year, we can finally look forward to the mouthwatering prospect of two consecutive Formula One World Champions racing one another in equal machinery at their home circuit – a circuit they both love and enjoy the challenge of and one which has regularly seen history made since its first appearance on the F1 calendar way back in 1948.
And, whilst we spare a thought for those behind the ultimately unsuccessful bid to re-introduce Grand Prix racing to the other Midlands circuit, and in particular Tom Wheatcroft who sadly passed away as Donington’s plans were unravelling, we congratulate Damon Hill and the BRDC and look forward to what will undoubtedly be an amazing 2010 and beyond for the British Grand Prix.