Silverstone: Peace in Our Time

Jay Nagley

The comment from Richard Phillips, Silverstone's managing director, that the 17 year deal between Bernie Ecclestone and the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) is "peace in our time" was ironic.

The phrase was coined by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who announced peace with Hitler just months before the Second World War – and Phillips's comment served as a (possibly unconscious) reminder that Bernie recently described Hitler as a man who "could get things done."

In any event, it apparently brings to an end years of acrimony between the two sides. Bernie's dislike of the BRDC is well-known and he has been threatening to drop Silverstone for at least a decade. He managed to bully the British government into paying for the widening of the A43 to service the recetrack and, in 2000, punished the circuit by moving the Grand prix to Easter, guaranteeing that the car parks became mudbaths. However, in his recent decision to move the race to Donington, Bernie finally overplayed his hand. Although Bernie was a great friend of Donington's owner (and saviour), the recently deceased Tom Wheatcroft, no-one else could take the idea seriously.

Donington has a character of its own, but it is a million miles away from a modern F1 track. Complaining that the facilities at Silverstone were not good enough and so the British Grand Prix was moving to Donington was like saying, "a Ford Focus is not big enough for me, so I am buying a Fiat 500".