SHARE

Have you been keeping an eye on the proposed new Circuit of Wales near Ebbw Vale? Well Silverstone certainly has and they’re nonplussed about the recent developments there including a request to the UK and Welsh governments for investment capital to underwrite the project.

According to the BBC, circuit developers have asked for £30m from the Welsh government and an additional £20m from the UK government. The Blaenau Gwent council is backing the plan and says they are comfortable with the business plan but Silverstone is not excited about the proposition and has offered an official statement:

“Silverstone is fully supportive of regeneration projects and the creation of new jobs, however, when Silverstone Circuit was recently looking for support to secure the future of the Formula 1 British Grand Prix and protect Motorsport Valley – a cluster of motor sport, automotive and high performance engineering businesses at the heart of the motor sport industry sector, comprising 4,300 companies, employing 41,000 people and generating annual sales of £9 billion – the application was denied on the basis that this would be classed as illegal State aid. In the absence of such aid, Silverstone had to sell off assets to ensure the Formula 1 British Grand Prix was retained in the UK.

Silverstone has been advised that an injection of funds by the Welsh and/or UK governments to the Circuit of Wales project could also amount to illegal State aid, as a transfer of State resources would give Circuit of Wales an economic and selective advantage over other circuits (and developments). There are currently a number of well established, privately funded circuits in the UK, including Wales, that feel that the British motor sport industry would be threatened by the addition of a government funded circuit.

To be clear, Silverstone has no objection to competition between UK circuits, but it has to be a level playing field.

Based on its unrivalled knowledge and experience of running an international motor racing venue for over 60 years, it is Silverstone’s view that the Circuit of Wales project is unviable. In 2008, UK motor sport experienced a similar scenario, when a previous management team at Donington Park circuit underestimated the financial realities of hosting Formula 1. A proposed major upgrade failed to materialise due to unrealistic projections and a consequent lack of investment.”

There is no doubt that Silverstone would have enjoyed any investment from the UK government when it was trying to renovate the circuit and secure a long-term extension of their Formula 1 contract back in 2010. One thing that has always made British, as well as American, grands prix challenging is the lack of government funding that so many other circuits enjoy in AsiaPac and elsewhere.

The race in Austin Texas was eventually funded in part by a Major Events Trust fund the State has for such events but Silverstone has enjoyed no such investments.

SHARE
An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • James

    Unrivalled knowledge? Are you kidding? They have flunked almost every task asked of them-Despite having almost every advantage. A free circuit, heart of motorsports valley, old boy network and 60 years of history. They lost the F1 GP, got beaten up by Bernie despite him not having any other option, spent 25m on the Wing which can’t be used for MotoGP or GT’s as its too small for their grids and cost so much to service that it can’t be used for almost anything else.

    Those lads in the Valley’s who will get jobs from this CoW project are starved for work and The BRDC are a bunch of champagne swilling toffs, who have sat on their hands forever and are now running scared at a bit of healthy competition. This can’t get built soon enough.

  • NeilM

    ‘Champagne swilling toffs’? Well there’s an intellectually compelling argument.

    • James

      You are right-Im no class warrior but really they are a bunch of whining plums. They asked me to take my winner cap off when I went into the club house in a really snooty way and then asked me to join-Never. They are the antithesis of what British Motorsport is about. They have had every advantage and have failed to grasp their opportunity. The heart of my point is that they have failed on F1 renegotiation, failed on the Wing, Silverstone tech park is a joke and not content with fumbling the ball they want to stop anyone else doing it properly and giving British motorsport fans and racers a decent new circuit and the motorsport business community a decent new home. One word – Cockblockers.

  • Mike Hawthorn

    Since 2001 Silverstone has received the benefit of £18.6m in access road upgrades paid from local and central government funds plus a £13m loan negotiated by Northants County Council from the EU Sports Fund and a £1.5m annual grant since 2010. Between them the BRDC, Octagon and even the F1 teams have spent far in excess of £100 million over the last 20 years propping up the British Grand Prix at the expense of the rest of the British motorsport community. And what was the return? Octagon lost £85m in three years before it bailed out. The BRDC returned a £54m loss in 2013. When the new owners realise all this, a new facility in Wales is going to be the least of Silverstone’s problems.

  • Julian

    Good luck getting to that track on raceday. Let’s build a racetrack in the middle of nowhere, how about in the valleys is it

  • James

    Its only an hour and a half from Birmingham, 3hrs from London and 30 mins from Bristol/Cardiff. They are dualling that road too. If you took the slow road the drive over the National Park is amazing _ Its that road that Top Gear use a lot.

    • NeilM

      Yeah, but it’s the last few miles that count. Silverstone is fairly near the motorway, but local access has still been a disaster.

  • James

    Never easy to get loads and loads in and out of somewhere. Disney do it the best. It looks like the dual carriage way goes directly into the circuit of wales