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Silverstone confirms concerns over new engines

NEWS STORY
09/07/2011

Since Pitpass exclusively reported two weeks ago that 17 top circuits, including Monaco and Monza, had unified to oppose the introduction of a 15,000 rpm V6 engine to F1, some sports reporters have tried in vain to rubbish the news. Now they are having to face facts and accept that it is true.

One insisted that "nobody in the F1 paddock was taking the threat seriously." whilst another decided instead to make completely false personal comments about the circuits' representative Ron Walker. Neither a professional or mature way to deal with the matter.

Despite strenuous denials from Walker, published here, several journalists, known for their fondness for conspiracy theories, indicated that he was somehow forced to make his comments by F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone. However, one website now has a second opinion and it confirms Walkers' comments completely.

The second opinion comes from none other than Neil England, managing director of Silverstone, home to this weekend's British Grand Prix. Instead of rebutting Walker's comments, England told Autosport: "Our concern is because we have taken on a 17-year deal, which it is not a cheap thing to do. You have a big crowd coming at the moment, but what if they don't like 1600cc engines and 15,000 rpm? It only takes 10,000 - 15,000 people not to come and it makes a huge difference. That is where we make our money; it is the top end of it. So we are objecting because of that."

In addition to his role as Pitpass' business editor, Christian Sylt also authors F1's trade guide Formula Money which compiles data showing all the F1 circuits' revenues and costs. Sylt's data for the British GP, which is based on filings from Silverstone, shows that its average ticket price is 260 so if it were to get 15,000 fewer spectators this would lead to a loss of around 3.9 million in revenue. To put this in perspective, it would have given Silverstone a loss of 4.5 million last year.

No doubt the conspiracy theorists may say that England is also doing Ecclestone's bidding but that would just show how desperately they are clutching at straws. Indeed they are likely to be told this very point directly by Walker in no uncertain terms on Sunday when he will be attending the Grand Prix.

As Pitpass has also reported, it isn't likely that the circuits will have to stand by their threat to leave F1 if the new engines are implemented. This is because Ecclestone has threatened to sue F1's governing body the FIA over an alleged breach in the decision-making process for the new regulations. This would bring them back to the drawing board and allow the rev limit to be raised to pacify the circuits. However, whilst their threat to leave would disappear, their unification will live on.

Interestingly, one sports reporter, whose colleagues at a sister paper have recently been handed their P45s as a result of the phone hacking scandal, seems not to trust Ecclestone's own words, describing his threat to sue as "internet tittler" and sarcastically adding "bet it is true."

Given that Pitpass and the Independent have reported Ecclestone's comments in direct quotes (which are on tape) it is rather thoughtless to suggest that he was lying. The F1 supremo is sure to hear about the allegation since Pitpass has been described by one of the journalist's peers as Ecclestone's "pet website." Indeed, Sylt couldn't help but laugh at the accusation that Ecclestone is lying coming from someone who works for a company whose credibility in print media has been utterly destroyed in the past few days. The words pot, kettle and black springing straight to mind.

If anyone really needs more proof of how serious Ecclestone is about suing the FIA then consider the following eyewitness description of the F1 commission meeting on 22 June when the V6 engine was agreed. The source says; "Sacha [Woodward Hill, Bernie's lawyer] was at the meeting and Jean Todt brought his lawyer and Bernie kept saying 'we will see you in the high court.'"

Over to the conspiracy theorists...

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