SILVERSTONE: Former champion Jackie Stewart hit back at Bernie Ecclestone on Wednesday after the Formula One supremo criticised Silverstone circuit and efforts to improve it.
Stewart, president of the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), joined chairman Martin Brundle in deploring Ecclestone's comments about the British Grand Prix venue.
“The attack by Bernie Ecclestone on the efforts we and Octagon (Brands Hatch Circuits) are carrying out to improve Silverstone is totally unwarranted,” they said.
“We don't hear such attacks on other circuits around the world, some of which Mr Ecclestone has an interest in.
“It is unfair in what Mr Ecclestone should regard as his home British Grand Prix at Silverstone that we face this predictable annual criticism.”
Ecclestone has been a vocal critic of the Grand Prix, last year calling it “a country fair masquerading as a world event.”
Speaking in Canada last weekend, the Briton told Reuters that Silverstone was an embarrassment and accused the BRDC of wasting money earmarked for developing it.
“It's embarrassing for me when somebody wants a new circuit and they say 'We're coming to England to look at Silverstone,'“ he said. “I say 'Don't do that whatever you do.
“If you want to come and look at what we don't want, go up to Silverstone and have a look'.”
Ecclestone's Formula One Management (FOM) contributed US$20 million, with promoters Octagon and the BRDC paying equal amounts, towards the project.
He said Octagon “let the BRDC manage the money and the BRDC spent two-thirds of the money on doing good things for them and their members and nothing for Octagon and nothing for us.”
Stewart and Brundle said they had worked in close consultation and with the approval of the governing FIA as well as Ecclestone's FOM.
“We abandoned the original scheme for a pit complex in response to pressure from the FIA to get road access right and car parking vastly improved for the Grand Prix in 2002, which we achieved with considerable positive public and customer reaction,” they said.
“Following 2002 we have carried out further improvements to the centre of the circuit in relation to better public amenities and we are now working towards an appropriate pit and paddock complex development programme for the future.”
The statement said Ecclestone had ample opportunity to suggest other priorities and had chosen not to.
“The money spent out of the US$60 million has not, contrary to Mr Ecclestone's statement, been to the benefit of the Club and its members,” it said. – Reuters