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Ecclestone turns his sights on Silverstone, again

NEWS STORY
06/02/2008

Having warned that Australia faces losing its round of the Formula One World Championship, Bernie Ecclestone has once again set his sights on Silverstone, saying that despite plans for a major upgrade, there are further obstacles to be overcome if Britain is to maintain its slot on the calendar.

24-hours after the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) proudly announced that the local council has given the green light to a major upgrade of the track and its facilities, Ecclestone warns that time is quickly running out for F1 in Britain, and in particular at Silverstone.

"Assume the facilities are built and we like it," he told The Daily Telegraph. "The next problem is the commercial agreement for us to be there. This has not been discussed other than the guy who came to see me some time ago saying 'there is no way we (the BRDC) could pay you even what we have paid you in the past'.

"So there are two things to overcome," Ecclestone continued. "First they need to build the facilities, then they need to pay the market rate. There is no sentiment in this from my point of view. I want only what we do in any other country, no more, no less. I sincerely hope they are in a position to deliver what they know they have to carry out to get the grand prix in 2010."

It's understood that Silverstone currently pays £8m for the rights to host the Grand Prix, less than many other European venues (those that remain) and a lot less than those nations in the east all clambering to get on board the 'F1 Express'.

Already, some European (F1) hosts are experiencing financial difficulty, and are unable to compete with those rising economies in the east where governments are willing, if not eager, to shell out the many millions demanded of them in order to gain the kudos that a Grand Prix supposedly delivers.

Ecclestone says that he has done all he can do to accommodate the British GP organizers, but not any more. "What other countries would normally do is enter into a commercial agreement. We would want a letter of credit to cover two years' fees. They would then need to build a facility in the way we would want it built. If they didn't build it for whatever reason, they would lose their two-year fee."

Speaking at a charity breakfast last week, Ecclestone once again called on the British government to come to the rescue. But while MPs might be eager to attend the event, probably even claiming free tickets and expenses for the wife and children, they will be aware that convincing the taxpayer to subsidise Formula One is another matter entirely.

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