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Ecclestone : We don't need a British GP

NEWS STORY
24/10/2009

With the demise of the Donington dream, all hope for the future of the British Grand Prix now rests with Silverstone where BRDC president Damon Hill is insisting that he will not allow the Northamptonshire circuit to be used as a stop-gap.

The withdrawal of the £135m bond, Donington's last hope of raising the sort of money needed to host the Grand Prix from 2010, means that - as many feared from the outset - the Donington dream is dead in the water, all that remains is for someone to put it out of its misery.

British fans, including many who never wanted to see the Grand Prix leave Silverstone in the first place, are now truly concerned as to whether they will continue to have a race in 2010 and beyond.

During the summer, Ecclestone, sensing that all was not well at Donington, admitted to holding talks with Silverstone with a view to holding the 2010 event there should Simon Gillett not have everything in place. However, as time wore on, and Gillett's ability to raise the required funding became ever more unlikely, Hill sensed he was in a position of power. Rather than allow Silverstone and its owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) to be used (yet again), he put his foot down insisting that he would not allow the Northampton track to be used as a stop-gap while Ecclestone sorted out a more lucrative long-term deal elsewhere.

Hill is now calling for a long-term deal for Silverstone, similar to that agreed with Donington, which also makes the hosting of the Grand Prix financially viable. However, mindful of the fact that he is being painted into a corner - after all, the fans, team, sponsors and drivers want to see Britain remain on the calendar - Ecclestone has hit back, claiming that F1 doesn't need Britain.

"Silverstone has not yet been offered a commercially viable contract," he told the Daily Express. "No one is forcing them to take it," he added, referring to Hill's reluctance to accept the F1 supremo's initial offer. "This is business. We have offered them a deal.

"The contract they have is the contract we like," he added. "We are not prepared to charge less. Do we need a British Grand Prix? No."

Despite the fact that Silverstone hosted the first ever Formula One World Championship Grand Prix, and the Britain has host a race every season since 1950, Ecclestone insists that Britain is not one of the 'traditional' events.

"Italy is a traditional race because they have always raced at Monza," he said, which is rubbish, the Italian Grand Prix was once held at Imola and for many years there were two rounds of the championship held in Italy. However, this was mainly during the era when Schumacher and Ferrari were dominant, for Ecclestone - as opposed to tradition - goes where the money is. When Ferrari was doing well Italy had two Grands Prix, likewise Germany (Schumacher). Now Spain gets two events courtesy of Alonso, while Britain, which has back-to-back champions faces the loss of its race.

"Monaco is traditional as they have always had the same track," he continued. "Britain and France have raced at three different circuits. They want a cut-price deal because it is traditional. That's not traditional to me. Britain is not protected. I would like a new plane because it's traditional as I have had one for 40 years but no one is offering me a cheap deal. That's not how it works. A lot of countries want Grands Prix. How would it be fair to those countries to charge them more than a major country like Britain?"

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