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4 July, 2008 - 09:51 By Staff Reporter

Grand Prix loss hits region for £30m

The East of England stands to lose at least £30 million a year following the decision by the FIA to move the British Grand Prix from Silverstone to Donington in Derbyshire, according to the Northants Chamber of Commerce.

Paul Griffiths, chief executive of the Northamptonshire Chamber, says the losses to the local economy could stretch even further as the damage could also hit other local supporting industries. Following discussions with Formula One Management, Forumla 1’s governing body FIA confirmed that the British Grand Prix will be retained on the Formula One World Championship calendar, moving from Silverstone to Donington Park from 2010.

Silverstone has faced mounting criticism over recent years regarding its infrastructure and general fitness to host a Formula One Grand Prix.“After many years of patient but fruitless negotiation with (Silverstone owners) the BRDC (British Racing Drivers’ Club), we are delighted that Bernie Ecclestone has nevertheless been able to ensure that the British Grand Prix will keep its place on the Formula One World Championship calendar,” said FIA president, Max Mosley.

Ecclestone implied that Silverstone could have kept the Grand Prix, had it invested in its track. Donington Park meanwhile has a £100m, five-year development plan and has been able to secure the British Grand Prix.

“I am sorry that we could not have helped Silverstone to raise the money to carry out the circuit improvements and run Formula One,” he said. “I believe that the government should have supported them which would have cost probably less than .002 per cent of the government’s commitment for the Olympic Games.

“We wanted a world class venue for Formula One in Britain, something that the teams and British F1 fans could be proud of. The major development plans for Donington will give us exactly that. A venue that will put British motor sport back on the map.”

Griffiths, however, said the news was a tremendous disappointment for the Northamptonshire economy. “This decision could have a significant effect on the local economy,” he said.

“The British Grand Prix alone brings in around £30 million to the county. Many more are generated from the strong local motorsport industry that employs a highly-skilled workforce and offers great career prospects.

“Northamptonshire has always been synonymous with motorsport and this brings many tourists to the area. In fact, this year is the Diamond Anniversary of the first British Grand Prix to be held at Silverstone in 1948. On the back of this reputation and rich heritage, many motorsport businesses have chosen to base themselves in Northamptonshire.”

Mosley said the decision was good news for British motorsport fans: “We understand that the development programme planned for Donington will achieve the very high standards we and FOM expect from a modern F1 circuit. Finally, British Formula One fans will get the Grand Prix venue they deserve.”

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