Silverstone is an exciting grand prix circuit with tradition and character and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone's decision to drop the British GP venue is not as much about money or facilities as it is about power, writes CAR deputy editor John Bentley.
Having attended two British Grands Prix in the last three years, I am certain that Bernie Ecclestone's battle with the BRDC is not as much about money or facilities as it is about power. Sure, the Godfather of F1 keeps raising the point about the need for Silverstone to be a model for other new circuits around the world. By that he means it should have the kind of spectacular steel and glass structures we saw at the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai.
But Silverstone is already a model for newcomers: it is an exciting grand prix circuit - not as dramatic as Spa, of course, but what other track is? - that extends F1 cars in the way that they are designed to be extended. It has tradition and character. And, having attended this year's race, I can vouch for the fact that the facilities have been spruced up.
While they are not palatial, they are comfortable and neat and tidy, and I believe that's all that's required. We need real grand prix circuits, not the growing numbers of featureless artificial stadium tracks that pander to the moneyed classes while excluding the real fans of grand prix racing.
But the power hungry Ecclestone is in a spot. He has already struck a deal to add the Turkish Grand Prix to the calendar (I was also lucky enough to visit the construction site earlier this year, and it is a high-cost undertaking), and needs to shed a race or two to accommodate it. The Concord Agreement makes provision for 17 races a year, and Ecclestone has somehow managed to persuade the teams to compete in 18 events this season.
He's worried that some of the players are going to protest, and Silverstone, which he has been softening up with destructive criticism for a number of years, is easy prey. But he's further damaging the appeal of Formula One in the process. No one man should be allowed to wield the level of power Ecclestone does.