The first encouraging noises for a while about the chances of Donington hosting a Grand Prix have come from Bernie Ecclestone. Speaking in the Times, his preferred medium, he says that following a meeting with Donington promoter Simon Gillett, he feels that the financial problems Gillett has experienced with unpaid rent will be sorted out and that financing the construction will be achieved.
On that basis, he appears to be willing to give Gillett a 12 month extension, if required. This would almost certainly mean the British Grand Prix being absent from the calendar for a year in 2010. Ecclestone ruled out the possibility of Silverstone staging the race for another year to bridge the gap.
“I think they are getting their act together, I think they are getting things up and running,” he said. “The debt will be sorted out. It’s not a problem and raising money from the banks is looking positive.”
“If the work at Donington is not finished in time, we would be happy to skip a year,” Ecclestone told The Times. “I don’t want to lose the British Grand Prix — that’s the last thing we want to do, but we aren’t going to Silverstone for sure.”
Sitting out a year is by no means unprecedented. Spa missed a season recently and this year the French Grand Prix is not on the calendar. Next season there will be a new race in South Korea, with India set to join the calendar in 2011.
In the FIA’s sporting regulations published on May 6th, it says that the maximum number of races in a season is 20. We are heading towards that number.