2 FEBRUARY 1 2012 motorsport-news.co.uk
IN THIS ISSUE
THE VOICE OF BRITISH MOTORSPORT ISSUE MJ2806
“Our new car is a real step forward”
P4 Caterham wants points finishes with new challenger
FORMULA RENAULT UK CAN WEATHER STORM
Two teams down, but junior formula is still strong
MEEKE IN FRAME FOR CIRCUIT OF IRELAND CHANCE
Sidelined Mini star wants comeback for home event
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THE 50 STARS COMING TO AN
Find out who’s hot in MN’s annual talent showcase
Historic race and rally news
Insight:Drayson’s electric dream 29 Sporting Scene round-up 30 Karting round-up 32 Letters/Comment/What’s On 34 SUBSCRIBETOMOTORSPORTNEWS 36 Wanted:New investors to build a microclimate bubble around Silverstone.After all, it would be nice to have their weather...
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New multi-million deal will revitalise British
FUT URE FUT URE
BRDC needs in ve stment to contin ue Silv erstone plans
James Matt By
ByMatt James Silverstone bosses are on the verge of confirming a long-term deal with a Qatari investment group to enhance the future of the British Grand Prix venue. Motorsport News understands that the circuit’s owner, the British Racing Drivers’ Club, is about to conclude a deal which would tie up the lease of the track for at least 100 years. Some sources suggest that the tenure could extend to 150 years and the deal could net the BRDCover £200 million over its duration.
BRDCpresident Derek Warwick said that the cash injection into the track would make Silverstone the envy of global motorsport: “This will bring the circuit to a standard where we have the best facility, not just in Europe, but in the world,” he said. “We already have the history and one of the greatest circuits, and what we are planning will complete the package.” No-one from the BRDC is allowed to comment directly about the deal due
Warwick buoyed by future to a confidentiality agreement that is in place while talks concerning the lease are on-going. The BRDC has been in exclusive talks with the Qatar Investment Authority since late last year and the Middle Eastern backers are expected to be named as the successful party within the next three weeks. However, MNhas learnt that the lease deal could see the club earn an initial fee for the conclusion of the talks and then a further lump sum every year for the duration of the deal. The new investors would also pay off the club’s debts that are reported to be in excess of £22 million. The QIAwould then take over the full running of the track and the new leaseholders would also be responsible for implementing the elements of the BRDC’s master plan to rework the venue.
It includes the building of educational centres, a technical park, three hotels, a kart track and other extra facilities.
The next stage Silverstone was awarded a 17-year contract to host Britiain’s showpiece race, the British GP,
in December 2009
when former world champion DamonHill was president of the BRDC. In order to secure the deal, Silverstone’s bosses had to undertake a series of improvements to the circuit and its facilities. The track was altered to the new Loop layout at the end of 2009 and it was brought into use in May 2010. Alongside that, the new £25 million Wing pit and paddock building was opened in time for the British GP last July.
The next stage of the upgrades has been outlined in the Silverstone master plan and was granted planning permission by local authorities in December last year, but funding the further works is beyond the financial capability of the BRDC.
That meant that the owners have been searching for someone to take over the lease and help pay for the next stage of upgrades. It entered into talks with QIA and it was reported that the Qatari consortium had paid £1 million to become the preferred bidder and sole negotiators with the club.
Warwick is upbeat The circuit’s future has been steered by the directors of the BRDCand Silverstone Circuits Ltd, which was put in place by the BRDC to handle the commercial aspects of the track. Classified advertising: 0208 267 5355
motorsport-news.co.uk FEBRUARY 1 2012 3
Photos: Jakob Ebrey and LAT
Grand Prix track
Masterplan for Silverstone includes the building of hotels,grandstands,a university and a kart track
Warwick, who took over the BRDCpresident’s post from Hill last August, said that hewas pleased with the progress the venue had made over the last two years regarding the future of the British Grand Prix, which had been awarded to Donington Park for 2010 until that deal hit financial trouble in November 2009.
The president said: “What we have achieved over the last few years – getting the grand prix off Donington Park, signing a 17-year contract, building the Wing and securing the future of Silverstone – has been amazing and I amvery proud to have been a part of that.
“The next step is massive – to find a third-party investor and to link the Wing to the rest of the circuit, to build hotels, museums, a university and other things. There are so many exciting things that are going to happen at Silverstone.” Warwick said that the new partners would set to work to implement the master plan, but the order in which new facilities are built may change. Warwick said: “It will change the face of the BRDCandSilverstone, hopefully for the better.”
Racing is protected As part of the deal with its new partners, the BRDChas sought assurances from the incoming leaseholder that the future of the venue and its use for motor racing will be protected for the long term.
There has been some concern from members within the club – including from 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell – that the new agreement could jeopardise the future of the venue given the length of the deal, but Warwick said that the board and Silverstone Circuits would make sure that the sport was safeguarded. As part of the deal, clauses would assure that the club had a permanent home at the circuit for its members. Warwick said: “Do you honestly think we at the BRDC,with the history and knowledge we possess, would sell Silverstone or the BRDC down the road?
“You can’t compare this to someone who buys a football club that wants a trophy asset, who is just there for what he can get out of it and then move along. Wehope our guy will be there for the long haul. They’ve certainly got the backing to be able to do that, they have the enthusiasm and the same goals as us. We can do nomore than that.”
New deal could turn venue into world class race centre
SILVERSTONE’S CHEQUERED PAST
July 1999:Brands Hatch Leisure replaces the BRDC as the promoter of the British Grand Prix after signing a shock ten-year deal with Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Management firm. BHL says Brands will be reworked to be able to host grand prix racing firm. Management
Brands says BHL
reworked be will
November 1999: Octagon, the new owner of Brands Hatch Leisure, faces delays over planning permission and is forced to negotiate a lease deal with Silverstone so that it isn’t in breach of its FOM contract
January 2004:Octagon sells off its motor racing interests after losing money in the sport. The British Grand Prix contract is picked up by the BRDC
September 2004:BRDC president Jackie Stewart signs a five-year deal with Ecclestone to promote the British Grand Prix, despite on-going rows between the F1 ringmaster and the circuit’s operators over the standard of facilities at the track
Silverstone reveals a radical reveals a radical redevelopment redevelopment plan which includes a new pits complex at the lower end of the circuit, between Club and Abbey corners at the lower end of the circuit, between Club and Abbey corners
June 2008:Motorsport News reveals that the British Grand Prix would move to Donington Park from 2010 onwards after Ecclestone signed a deal with venue leaseholder Simon Gillett
February 2009: Silverstone unveils plans for a reconfigured layout which include the new Loop section. It has been designed to appease MotoGP bosses, who confirm that the motorcycle series will race at the track
November 2009:Gillett and Donington Park’s plans to host the British Grand Prix hit the buffers due to his inability to raise the £135 million needed to secure the deal
December 2009: Silverstone signs a 17-year deal with FOM to host and promote the British Grand Prix
May 2010: Silverstone’s new-look circuit is used for an international meeting for the first time, when FIA GT1 racers take to the extended track
May 2011:The new Wing pits complex is officially opened ahead of July’s grand prix
October 2011:Silverstone enters exclusive talks with a long-term partner to take on the lease of the venue and help fund the next stage of its programme of upgrades
December 2011:Local authorities give the thumbs up to the BRDC’s master plan for a raft of new facilities at the circuit
WHY CATERHAM IS DESPERATE TO MAKE A POINT, PAGE FOUR