British Grand Prix cannot look to the government for monetary aid, as Donington troubles continue

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    British Grand Prix cannot look to the government for monetary aid, as Donington troubles continue

    Post by Ross on 24th April 2009, 09:46

    Government won't bail out British GP

    Help: British government say they won't invest in Donington to help keep the British Grand Prix

    The UK government has ruled out providing financial assistance to the British Grand Prix, despite calls from leading figures within the sport for it to step in and safeguard the race following Donington Park's latest difficulties.

    The future of Britain's Formula 1 race was thrown into fresh doubt yesterday when it emerged that Donington's owner Wheatcroft & Son was launching legal action against its operating company over unpaid rent and seeking to end the firm's lease on the track.

    Bernie Ecclestone has suggested that the British government is ultimately to blame for not investing in its national F1 event.

    However during a debate on the British GP in the House of Lords yesterday, Labour's deputy chief whip Lord Davies said the government would assist but would not put public money into the race.

    "We certainly stand by to help — not directly financially," he said.

    "Motorsport is an independent operation in this country, as most sports are.

    "We do not want a state-sponsored motor industry, but the government can give necessary assistance and support in judicious ways.

    "We see our role as facilitating and encouraging the Motor Sports Association and the owners of Donington to be proactive about attracting money from various funding arrangements to guarantee the finances they need."

    British Racing Drivers' Club president Damon Hill said that the GP's current host Silverstone is ready to step in if Donington falters, but he believes Ecclestone has his heart set on a government-supported race at Donington.

    "We’ve had communications, there’s always been an open line of communication between ourselves and Bernie," Hill told the BBC.

    "We’ve always tried to keep the door open, and actually when the Donington thing happened, he did say that he thought it was a shame that the government hadn’t helped Silverstone.

    "But what Bernie seems to be saying is that he would prefer the government to support Formula 1 racing – and presumably he means at Donington."

    Lord Davies added that Silverstone must be considered as an alternative to Donington, despite Ecclestone's insistence that the choice is between a British GP at Donington or no British GP at all.

    "Donington will and must succeed. We are putting all our support into it," said Lord Davies.

    "However, should anything go wrong on that front, it is important that Silverstone is available to resume its position, because the essential thing is that we must not lose a British Grand Prix."

    Sir Jackie Stewart agreed that Silverstone had to be kept on standby.

    "If Donington were unable to hold the British Grand Prix for either financial or other reasons, then the natural suggestion would be that Silverstone would be the perfect place for it to be run," he said.

    "I think losing the British Grand Prix would be a hideous mistake for UK Plc, for the motorsports industry and the jobs involved, over the longer term.

    "So I hope that they could re-light the fire at Silverstone in order to at least hold it in 2010 there, and then try to get government and other people involved to create facilities that would be acceptable to Bernie Ecclestone and the commercial rights holders that he represents as well as the FIA."

    But he also echoed Ecclestone's criticism of the government's unwillingness to directly invest in F1.

    "When you see what’s being done for the Olympics – the amounts of money being put in for some stadiums that will only be used for the Olympics and then maybe broken down – it would be stupid in my mind for the government [to withhold support from the British GP]," said the three times world champion.

    "We’ve got an industry that is dependent on motorsport; maybe 50,000 jobs in the United Kingdom would be put at risk.

    "We were the first ever to hold a world championship race in 1950 and we’ve never missed it since.

    "To lose that now would be irresponsible for the sport itself, maybe even for the commercial rights holder, and for the British government."


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