Donington misses Ecclestone's latest deadlineUPDATE (GMM) Donington's hopes of hosting the British grand prix appear all but over, after boss Simon Gillett missed yet another deadline to demonstrate his financial ability to refurbish the Leicestershire venue.
F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has put in place a sequence of missed deadlines in recent weeks, the latest of which was late Friday, and his patience may now be at an end.
Britain's Daily Express and Times newspapers, as well as the PA news agency, all report that Donington's absolutely last chance is now Monday, with traditional Silverstone to thereafter get the green light to prepare for next July's race.
"It's not good, is it?" Ecclestone told The Times.
"Even if they get the money, I cannot see how it will all be ready in time to go. It is very disappointing because we thought it would happen, but they cannot go on missing deadlines.
"They could still come to us saying they have the money, but there is no way the circuit would be ready at this late stage. It looks as though we will have to start planning again," said the Briton.
PA quoted Ecclestone as saying: "The deadline is this weekend, and we will see what happens on Monday."
Gillett did not comment.
10/09/09 Donington Park boss Simon Gillett faces a make-or-break meeting on Monday which will determine the future of the British Grand Prix.
Gillett, the CEO of Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd, has long been plagued with financial problems since winning the rights to stage the race from next summer. The rumors, however, intensified on Friday night amidst suggestions the financial plug had been pulled by Gillett's primary backers. Just a fortnight ago Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone voiced his concerns, confirming Donington Park's problems were financial and that Gillett was struggling to get the money together. Gillett was initially given a deadline of the end of September to prove he had the funding in place to carry out the multi-million pound facelift required for the track to stage the race. That deadline was extended by a few days until October 3, and when that passed, Gillett was told he had until this weekend to address the matter. Zzzz
With Gillett effectively swimming against the tide, it is believed the gravity of the situation increased earlier on Friday, and that the finances were withdrawn. However, it is understood Gillett has managed to partly salvage a dire situation, and now goes into Monday's meeting with his and the circuit's hopes on the line. Ecclestone said: "The deadline is this weekend, and we will see what happens on Monday."
Beyond Monday it is unlikely there will be a further reprieve as it will leave little time for the construction work to be completed as the race is scheduled for July 11, the day of the World Cup final.
This latest news will put Silverstone on red alert to step into the breach, as has long been suggested they would do given the problems faced by Donington.
After arguably their most successful staging of the British Grand Prix for many a year this summer, with a three-day crowd hitting 250,000, even Ecclestone was left impressed. Following an unbroken run of 23 years at the Northamptonshire venue, it appears as if Silverstone may again be called upon. Sporting News
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