May 2 (GMM) In the face of growing fears about the health of his British grand prix project, Donington's Simon Gillett insists the 2010 debut is on track.
Recently, it was reported that the debenture funding scheme was severely delayed, the circuit's racing license had been revoked, Gillet was being sued by the landowners, and that the council planning permission for the F1 works was in danger.Then, it emerged that Goldman Sachs has withdrawn its financing commitment, leaving millions in necessary funding in doubt.But to the UK tabloid Express, Gillett insists: "I'll take a tenner now that the British grand prix will be here next year."Although delayed, he said the announcement of the debenture funding is in the pipeline, and denied the new involvement of British business minister Lord Mandelson is his last hope."We did not take this on thinking we would get government grants, interest-free loans or special favours," said the Donington Park CEO.The newspaper report said Mandelson, representing a British government concerned about the likely loss of premier motor races, is urging banks to bridge the finance cap.Bernie Ecclestone, too, chipped in by agreeing to extend the race contract from 10 to 17 years, making it more attractive to financiers.Gillett agreed: "Despite what some say, things are very positive. Lord Mandelson understands we are not looking for free money. We have a viable business plan that can support the level of investment we are looking for. That has never changed."The general feeling about the project, however, is far from positive."I understand that," Gillett acknowledged. "The best way to fund my business, I've found, is to get a pound from everyone who thinks we will not have a grand prix here. I could fund Donington's rebuild a thousand times over."Brits are natural doubters. There are vested interests out there, too. The people who matter in my world, the banks, the research companies, Bernie, all believe this can happen," he added.