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Official: Silverstone confirms 17-year deal for British GP

NEWS STORY
07/12/2009

Silverstone bosses have officially confirmed that a new 17-year deal has been agreed with Bernie Ecclestone, thereby securing the future of the British Grand Prix.

The future of the event in 2010 and beyond had been in doubt ever since a deal which should have seen the event switch to Donington fell through when the promoter was unable to raise the required funding. After a series of deadlines were never met, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone finally gave up on the move, admitting the deal was dead.

However, moving the event back to Silverstone, which has hosted 43 Grands Prix since the Formula One World Championship got underway in 1950 - the Northamptonshire track hosting the first ever race in the history of the championship - was far from a foregone conclusion. Other than a long running feud between Ecclestone and track owners the British Racing Drivers' Club, there was concern as to the amount of money being demanded.

Ecclestone was said to be demanding a flat fee of 12m a year in addition to a 7 percent annual increment. Furthermore, the F1 supremo was demanding major upgrades to the circuits' facilities, particularly in terms of the pit and paddock complex.

With no government backing, and having recorded only a 662,000 profit in 2008, the BRDC was in an unenviable position financially, with Ecclestone only too keen to point to the rising economies in the east all eager to become part of the F1 dream.

With less than 48-hours before the F1 Commission rules on the calendar for 2010, time was running out leaving British fans fearful for the future of the sport in the country which has effectively dominated it for much of its history.

Previously, Ecclestone had warned that should Britain slip from the calendar in 2010 there was no guarantee that it would return in the near future.

Under the new deal, while the annual cost of the race remains 12m, the annual increment has been reduced to 5 percent. Furthermore, according to Silverstone Circuits Ltd managing director Richard Phillips, there will be a break ten years into the deal allowing either party to walk away. The new deal will see Silverstone pay 310m over the next 17 years as opposed to 370m.

"It is not easy to enter into a contract of this magnitude and you have to take on a lot of responsibility," BRDC president Damon Hill told reporters, "but the BRDC wanted this relationship to continue. The title of Silverstone as home of motor sport has come true. It is a place for all motor sport.

"This long term contract will enable us to continue with our plans to develop Silverstone into a world class facility," he continued, "bringing the venue into line with the very best sports facilities in the world for the benefit of all race goers, teams, drivers and fans.

"Everyone in the BRDC loves motor sport," he added, "and we are looking forward to the MotoGP as well as the British Grand Prix."

"I am pleased that we have reached an agreement with Silverstone for the retention of the Grand Prix," said Bernie Ecclestone. "This will ensure that Great Britain will remain on the Formula One calendar for many years to come, which is something I have personally always wanted to see happen. The team at Silverstone already knows how to organise a good event, so now everyone can look forward to next summer at Silverstone."

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