Dave Leggett | 1 October 2004
So maybe Bernie Ecclestone wasn't bluffing after all and there really will not be a 2005 Formula One season Grand Prix in Britain? Silverstone has apparently been rejected and is out of next year's race calendar. How can that be? How greedy is Bernie? Apparently, the final gap in monetary terms needed for a deal was just a matter of a few million pounds. The equivalent of one month's salary for Schumacher. What's it all about, for goodness sake?
Actually, the issue looks more complicated than it at first sounds and the discussion between the Silverstone people and Bernie's people about improving the Silverstone circuit and facilities has been going on for some time. I think the underlying problem here is more about attitudes than a few million pounds.
There are plenty of places vying for a place in the F1 calendar these days and maybe they have other advantages too, in terms of advertising audience and sponsorship (and tobacco companies? not a problem). Did you see that spanking new circuit in Shanghai? Top class and it only took a couple of years to build. Frightening. I'm afraid to say, it's the way the world is going. No place for old world sentiment. Listening to Sir Jackie Stewart on the subject yesterday was sad. He's a great guy. I heard him speak when I was in Indy at a motorsports industry conference earlier this year. No fool and a great, witty speaker. But there was something in the tone of what he was saying yesterday that was almost sorrowful. He seemed to be in shock, not quite with the times and not quite grasping the new reality.
I hope I'm wrong and it's just brinkmanship politics. But what an irony. Britain is home to so much of the F1 motorsports industry and Formula One actually began at Silverstone in 1950.
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