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Ecclestone fires new Silverstone warning

NEWS STORY
21/10/2007

As the 2007 season draws to a close and British race fans lament Lewis Hamilton's failure to secure the title, Bernie Ecclestone has taken a fresh pot-shot at Silverstone and its owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), warning that the British Grand Prix is in serious danger of being dropped from the calendar.

"I think we've got a contract up to 2009," he told BBC Radio Five Live. "After that, I've no idea. They know what they've got to do if they want to retain it. But maybe they don't want to."

Asked if he can contemplate a time when there is not a British GP on the calendar, the F1 supremo replied: "Yeh, yeh, quite easily, after 2009".

However, he made it clear that the future of the race is not merely down to bringing the circuit up to standard: "There are a lot of things," he admitted. "They need to be paying the rate other Europeans are paying, they have to get the circuit and track up to a standard. It can't be comparable to most of them but it needs to be an acceptable standard.

"We have just rebuilt Belgium," he added, obviously referring to Spa-Francorchamps as opposed to the country, "it's not the best facility but we'd be happy with something like that".

And could he envisage a British World Champion with no 'home race?

"Yes, sure, "said Ecclestone. "If he continues as he is, he will be World Champion. But if they continue as they are there won't be another British GP (after 2009)."

The Englishman then repeated his call for the British Government to give the race its (financial) support.

"What is disturbing for me is that we've got the Government spending vast amounts of money on the Olympic Games and yet the small amount of money that is needed to support the people who are running the Grand Prix at Silverstone they're not prepared to do it."

When asked about the common perception that F1 is awash with money and should not therefore require support from the Government to put things right, Ecclestone was adamant.

"We don't need to put things right," he said. "We can go somewhere else, we don't need to be in England. We're not begging to have a race at Silverstone, we're not begging, there are plenty of places that are waiting for a race.

Have a good look at The Olympics and see what it is costing them," he added, "particularly compared to what they thought it was going to cost."

The Englishman also reiterated his desire to see the F1 calendar comprise twenty races, suggesting that there should be less testing.

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