Donington Park could still host the British Grand Prix in 2010, according to track boss Simon Gillett (seen at left), but only if a third party either invests in or buys out the company that runs the track.
Gillett's company, Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd., went into administration (the British legal equivalent of bankruptcy) last week after failing to raise the required funds to complete ambitious redevelopment plans.
Gillett is confident that there is still time for the key work to be completed before next year's grand prix, with the hospitality and other facilities completed for the 2011 event. This means that a grand prix could be held at the track next year if the money is in place, opening up the possibility of a new contract agreement. To get the track to an acceptable state for 2010, he reckons around $83 million would have to be spent, with a further $65m needed to complete the additional facilities for 2011.
"Next year is possible, but it wouldn't be all of the construction," Gillett told AUTOSPORT. "You'd end up doing pit garages, race control and the track – the bare essentials to get the track up and running for 2010 – and there's still plenty of time for that to happen.
"It's a very short period of time that we are working to on that front, but it's a really good opportunity for someone. Where on earth can you buy a Formula 1 grand prix? Here you can, potentially. If someone is out there and has that funding at the moment, they have a unique opportunity to steal away the British Grand Prix."
Gillett said that if Donington wants to host the British Grand Prix it will have to be ready for 2010 rather than 2011 – and if the race falls off the calendar it could jeopardize the event's future.
"It would have to be 2010, because Silverstone would not take it for one year and no one, me especially, wants to see the British Grand Prix lost to the UK," he declared.
Although the 17-year-contract that DVLL signed with Bernie Ecclestone last year is no longer valid because the track failed to meet its obligations, Gillett is confident that the F1 supremo would be willing to consider a new deal on a similar basis.
"That contract has gone," conceded Gillett, "but Bernie Ecclestone has said that if someone turns up at Donington with the right ideas and the right money, then he will talk to them."
Although continuing with the British Grand Prix project is Gillett's favored direction, it is one of three options for the future of the track. Gillett is hopeful about the interest shown in the circuit since it went into administration, although should a buyer or investor not be found, DVLL could be forced to go into liquidation.
"We are now seeing who is out there," he said. "There are multiple paths that we can go down. One is to go back to the good old national and club venue that it was and another is to take it to a hybrid and create the new track for national and club racing. The third is if someone comes in with significant funding and goes for F1. So that's what the administration process is going through at the moment.
"There has been a significant amount of interest, but predominantly we've been talking about F1, because time is of the essence. But if that doesn't pan out, then there will be more interest in the national circuit."
The completion of any buyout would need to take place within the next two weeks, as Ecclestone has said that the 2010 F1 calendar must be finalized by Dec. 9.