| The F-1 boss calls Silverstone an embarrassment
London: Bernie Ecclestone intends to welcome Turkey to Formula One in 2005 and sees Russia as a missing jewel in the crown. But he says Britain’s Silverstone, the World War II airfield where the biggest show in motor racing first hit the road on a track marked by straw bales in 1950, is an embarrassment.
“I hope it doesn’t happen but we don’t have to have a race in Britain,” Ecclestone, himself a Briton, said at the weekend.
The Formula One supremo labelled the British Grand Prix last year as a “country fair masquerading as a world event”, despite substantial road improvements to ease traffic jams. He has not changed his mind.
With this year’s race on July 20, and the FIA likely to discuss the 2004 calendar at a regular FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris on Tuesday, he warmed to a familiar theme.
“It’s embarrassing for me when somebody wants a new circuit and they say ‘We’re coming to England to look at Silverstone’,” he said. “I say ‘Don’t do that whatever you do. If you want to come and look at what we don’t want, go up to Silverstone and have a look’.”
Germany’s Nuerburgring, which hosts the next race on June 29, has had a substantial revamp, as has Hockenheim. Monaco also showed a new face this year after reclaiming land from the harbour.
Silverstone, owned by the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), is being redeveloped with funds from the BRDC, Ecclestone’s Formula One Management and promoters Octagon, now restructured as Brands Hatch Leisure (BHL).
Ecclestone said the BRDC, whose chairman Martin Brundle earlier this year accused him of “trying hard to destabilise the Grand Prix”, had wasted the money.
“We put in 20 million (dollars) each,” he said. “The Octagon people let the BRDC manage the money and the BRDC spent two-thirds of the money on doing good things for them and their members and nothing for Octagon and nothing for us.”
Two years ago the BRDC announced plans to turn the circuit into a world-class venue by 2003 with a revamped layout to include a new parabolic curve. There would be a new media centre and reconfigured track.
That has not happened.
“I said ‘you’re never, ever going to do what you want to do for the amount of money you’ve got’,” said Ecclestone.
“They said ‘No, no we do’. I said, ‘good, do it’. And what have they done' Nothing. Put some roads in. Spent Christ-knows how much on a car park. They’ve spent four-and-a-half-million pounds on architects’ fees to do what' To build a car park. They should be building the place like they said they were going to.”