Hill: F1 could still return to Silverstone
|By Edd Straw||Friday, April 24th 2009, 09:13 GMT|
British Racing Drivers' Club president Damon Hill has said that Silverstone has been in discussions with Bernie Ecclestone to reclaim the rights to hold the British Grand Prix should Donington Park not be able to.
Track owner Tom Wheatcroft has entered into legal proceedings against lease owner Donington Park Ventures Ltd over £2.7 million of unpaid rent stretching back to last September. Wheatcroft is also seeking for the lease to be forfeited.
This has thrown the viability of the 2010 British Grand Prix into fresh doubt, and Silverstone, which loses the rights to the event after this year's race, is determined to step in should Donington prove unable to.
"We've had communications," Hill told BBC Radio 5 Live. "There's always been an open line of communication between ourselves and Bernie.
"We're very keen on Formula 1 and Silverstone has a long history with Formula 1, so we've always tried to keep the door open."
Despite Silverstone's willingness to take over the race, Ecclestone reiterated yesterday that should Donington Park not be able to, the British Grand Prix would not be held in 2010.
Ecclestone cited Silverstone's failure to improve its facilities to meet his expectations in recent years.
"There is no question of us going back," he said. "They have had enough chances and have not delivered what they promised."
Ecclestone also hit out at the British government's failure to help the event, especially in light of the vast sums of money being spent on the 2012 London Olympics.
"It's a disgrace that the British government don't step in to help," he said. "They are throwing billions at the London Olympics. They could do what is needed to save the race by putting in a fraction of it - 0.002 per cent."
But Hill stopped short of calling for the government to put money into the race. Although the vast majority of events worldwide benefit from some form of government support, Hill believes that there is an argument that the British Grand Prix should stand on its own feet commercially.
"Some countries are happy to pay as a government for a Formula 1 event because they believe it provides benefits for their country and economy," he said.
"In a free market, if you're arguing there's a market out there for grands prix and that his job is to get the best price he possibly can, if he's doing his job properly he would take the highest bidder. Therefore that's the criteria for getting a grand prix.
"On the other hand, if it's a proper free market then the business should run on proper free market principles which would not require it to receive government investment."