British GP is become pawn in FIA/FOTA war
One of the many news stories going around at last weekend's British GP at Silverstone was that Bernie and Max had agreed that there would "definitely" be a British GP in 2010. Bernie has previously been adamant that if Donnington Park (which had last year won the rights to host the event from 2010 onwards) wasn't ready in time for 2010 then there wouldn't be a British GP - "we're not going back to Silverstone" he said, more than once.
So what changed? I think it's obvious it has something to do with the other big story of the weekend: the announcement that FOTA would go ahead with plans to establish a breakaway series for its 8 teams to compete in in 2010. Bernie has threatened to sue, the FIA are already (according to Max) going ahead with legal action. But that's not all they'll do - why not try and do deals to prevent the FOTA series from getting the venues they want?
Bernie couldn't speak lowly enough of the British Racing Driver's Club (BRDC), owners of Silverstone, previously. Now he will offer them a contract, with a time limit to accept of course. Accept the contact and they will have saved the British GP for 2010 - if Donnington isn't ready they will put the race on as they did this year - if Donnington are ready the BRDC collects a nice retainer for doing nothing. But they will have done something: The contract will also contain an exclusivity clause. They will not be allowed to host any "competing" event.
The dubious decision to move the British GP to Donnington has been seen by those watching the activities of FOTA as the perfect opportunity to get at least one classic race on their schedule and that fact will not have escaped Bernie's attention. He is currently facing the chance of his life's work evaporating due to the bloody-mindedness of the FIA president. If the FOTA series does go ahead, the value of Formula 1 will be seriously diminished, having only one team with significant history. The least he will want to do is diminish the value of his competitors as well.
My hope is that the BRDC is wise enough to not fall for Bernie's offer. He has promised a British GP in 2010 and if the BRDC refuse to sign an exclusive agreement with Bernie now, they will still, I believe, get the opportunity to host the British GP, should Donnington not be ready, at a later date. Meanwhile, if the FOTA split does go ahead, wouldn't they rather host the FOTA event instead?