Stewart talks of British GP situation
25 April 2009 – Jackie Stewart has spoken out over the current dilemma facing the future of the British Grand Prix. Due to be held at Donington Park for a decade from next year onwards, the future of Britain's Grand Prix has come under more fire with circuit owners demanding debts be paid off by race organisers, which could jeopardize the entire event.
Stewart, a member of the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) - the organisation behind Silverstone's current organisation of the event - spoke of the current situation with the BBC's Holly Samos during practice in Bahrain on Friday.
"We were the first to hold a world championship Grand Prix, in 1950, and we've never missed it since," the former triple World Champion said. "To lose that now would be irresponsible for the sport itself, maybe for the commercial rights holder (Formula One Management, headed by Bernie Ecclestone) and for the British government; they have supported many other sports far and beyond anything that they have ever given to motor racing - it's no good any MP telling me that motor racing is a rich sport and that the government could not be seen to be rescuing it, that is wrong."
Ecclestone has also raised the issue to the government's attention, stating that only a fraction of the London 2012 Olympic budget would be required in order to confirm the British Formula One Grand Prix, which is annual as opposed to being a one-off. "(F1) is a very successful industrial sport that brings jobs to our country and prestige to us on a global basis," Stewart continued. "We must make it stay in Britain, and our politicians should be playing a bigger role in that."
Ecclestone repeated in Bahrain that Silverstone is no longer an alternative, claiming that too many promises have been broken over the course of the last few years. Stewart, on the other hand, echoed the sentiments of BRDC chairman Damon Hill in that Silverstone is the ideal location if all else fails in the Midlands. "If Donington were unable to hold the British Grand Prix for financial or other reasons, then the natural suggestion would be that Silverstone would be the perfect place for it to run," Stewart concluded, despite admitting that facilities still require major improvements in order to reach Ecclestone's ultra-high standards for race tracks.