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Page last updated at 16:12 GMT, Friday, 9 January 2009

New Donington is granted approval

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Watch Ayrton Senna's famous Donington win at the 1993 European GP

Plans for a 100m revamp of Donington Park, the new home of the British Grand Prix from 2010, have been approved.

North West Leicestershire District Council granted planning permission for the scheme at a meeting on Thursday.

Work can now start on a raft of improvements to the circuit, including track alterations, a new pit area, a club house and temporary grandstands.

Donington Park inherits the Formula One race from Silverstone in a 10-year agreement beginning next year.

Silverstone, in Northamptonshire, has been home to the British Grand Prix since 1987, but Donington Park, just south of Derby, was awarded the contract for the next decade last July.

The council gave approval as long as an event management plan is prepared and approved.

Racetrack owner Simon Gillett said: "This puts us on the world stage with places like Bahrain."

"I really do struggle to understand how the economics of Donington will work

McLaren boss Ron Dennis
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone demanded "a world class venue for F1" when awarding Donington its contract last year.

"Donington's development plans will give us exactly that, a venue to put British motorsport back on the map," he said at the time.

However, following Thursday's meeting, McLaren boss Ron Dennis expressed concern at Donington's funding model and infrastructure.

"I really do struggle to understand how the economics of Donington will work," Dennis told the Autosport International Show.

"They have had a 25% swing in the dollar, and the contract will be a dollar-based contract, whilst it has a massive investment into infrastructure.

"I also don't understand how we are going to get in and out of the place - although I can tell you I will be in a helicopter."

Councillors visited the racetrack prior to the meeting and work is expected to start on the new pit complex immediately.

Now the plans have been approved, Gillett has 17 months to raise the money needed to finance the scheme and put it into action.

But he told BBC Sport his team was "confident about all aspects of the project" and would complete the work "to a high standard" ahead of the British Grand Prix in July 2010.

Donington Park plans
Track to be widened, Coppice corner tightened, new complex after first corner (shown above)
New pit and paddock area, hospitality suites and club house
Temporary grandstands for British Grand Prix with parking very limited at circuit, public transport encouraged
Subject to approval, development to begin in January 2009 and finish in June 2010
Last month, Gillett dismissed suggestions he would struggle to find the money to implement his plans in the current economic climate.

"They'll see when buildings come out of the ground and cars turn up on the grid," he said.

"If they still want to sit at home not believing me, that's their prerogative. To be honest, I love the scepticism. It's what motivates me.

"The more the experts tell me it won't happen, the more I seem to achieve. I feed off it.

"It doesn't concern me at all. I have my goals and I know they're realistic."

Dennis said he would "applaud anyone coming into grand prix racing and bringing competition", but did not share Gillett's optimism over the plans.

"The reality is I want successful grands prix and I am concerned that, as we go down this path, the economic model, especially in this climate, won't work," said the McLaren boss.

"That could be to the detriment of us hosting a grand prix in this country."

The facilities promised to Ecclestone ahead of the 2010 British Grand Prix include a substantial renovation of the circuit itself.

A new pit and paddock area is also planned, as are new race control buildings and a media centre, plus hospitality suites and new service roads.

The revamped track is set to include a tightening of Coppice, which becomes the final bend before the pit straight, and a redesigned first sector incorporating a new, long left-hand turn and hairpin following the fierce first Melbourne turn.

Sheff Hatter
The planning application suggested the club house would be the final element to reach completion, in June 2010, leaving the finest of margins for delay.

The decision to grant planning permission was unanimous and followed the recommendation of North West Leicestershire District Council's director of the environment.

The committee was asked to consider the impact of traffic and noise on the nearby villages of Aston, Barrow, Kings Newton, Isley Walton and Melbourne, and the 13th-century Swarkestone Bridge.

The Donington track has only once previously hosted a Formula One event, when Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna drove to a famous victory in the European Grand Prix at the circuit in 1993.

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see also
Donington owner rejects sceptics
11 Dec 08 |  Formula One
F1 track decision due in new year
11 Dec 08 |  Leicestershire
Scepticism greets Donington switch
04 Jul 08 |  Formula One
British GP will move to Donington
04 Jul 08 |  Formula One
F1 boss renews Silverstone attack
20 Nov 07 |  Formula One
New owners in Donington takeover
06 Feb 07 |  Leicestershire
Donington Park to get 5m revamp
14 Feb 05 |  Motorbikes
Donington's Formula One dream
25 Jul 01 |  UK News

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