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Still hope for Silverstone in 2005

NEWS STORY
03/10/2004

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has admitted that there is still a chance of Silverstone, and thereby the British Grand Prix, appearing on the 2005 Formula One World Championship calendar.

However, it would involve Silverstone's owner's, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), upping its current offer, in addition to the ten teams that contest the world championship agreeing to an 18 race schedule.

"The BRDC have a contract, they need to sign it," Ecclestone told BBC Five Live. "We also have to get all the teams to run in 18 races. Then we could probably get the FIA to agree with that."

The 2004 calendar consists on 18 races so it's not thought that this would be a major problem. That said, because the teams are only obliged to contest 17 races - under the terms of the Concorde Agreement - they had to be compensated when the calendar was increased to 18. If Britain is the 18th race in 2005 it's unclear if extra funding would be required or if Ecclestone assumes the teams would merely waive this.

On the subject of Silverstone and money, Ecclestone admitted that British sports minister Richard Caborn - who had previously ruled out government intervention - asked the F1 supremo if he could find an alternative solution.

"There was about 3m difference," revealed Ecclestone, "but Richard Caborn asked me 'Bernie can't you help?' So we split the difference, to about 1.5m"

Even if the BRDC is unable to come up with the extra cash - and speaking on Thursday, BRDC president Jackie Stewart said that the club could not afford the Grand Prix at any price - Ecclestone believes that businesses and the authorities in the region might make up the shortfall.

"The Northampton area was going to lose 30m or 40m if this race went away," said Ecclestone. "I thought they would have said, 'You're short of 1.5m, we'll put that in because we're still 28m better off.'

"But nobody's done any of those things," he added, "nobody wants to give anything. They expect us to do everything and we have."

Ecclestone also took the opportunity to strenuously deny that he wanted to take control of the legendary Northamptonshire track, which hosted the first ever Formula One Grand Prix, back in 1950.

"We wouldn't want to spend that money," he said, "and anyway they say they're going to sell half the land for 150m. If that's the case they're going to spend 100m on building the super circuit and nice grandstands. So it would be easy to make it work."

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