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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 September, 2004, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
British GP axed
Silverstone 2004
The British Grand Prix has been omitted from the Formula One calendar for the first time in the sport's history.

Silverstone is not on the provisional 2005 calendar, which must be ratified by the FIA world council on 13 October.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone reportedly wanted 8.9m from race organisers the British Racing Drivers' Club to host the race.

BRDC president Sir Jackie Stewart described the decision as "a disaster" and called on Ecclestone to rethink.

The BRDC had until Thursday to submit an offer to promote the 2005 Grand Prix but it was rejected, with Ecclestone scathing of the way Silverstone is run.

"We're dealing with a gentlemen's club which is a bit short of gentlemen," he told ITV News.

If the decision stands it will be the first time Britain is missing from the Formula One calendar since the world championship began, at Silverstone, in 1950.

Stewart told BBC Radio Five Live: "Even at this late stage we would ask Mr Ecclestone and the British Government to think again and see if we can retain the Grand Prix for the sake of the industry, sport and the country.

I seriously think that it is possible there will be no Grand Prix in Great Britain next year
Alex Hooton,
BRDC chief executive
"We've gone as far as we can in making cutbacks in other areas to be able to afford the Grand Prix because we feel it is very important for the country as a whole.

"The gap between money being asked for (by Formula One) and what we can offer is comparatively small - in single figures of millions - but the amount is unaffordable.

"The British Racing Drivers Club cannot afford the British Grand Prix at any price."

Stewart was also critical of the Government for failing to offer sufficient financial help to Silverstone.

"We've been in contact with the Government for nearly four years," said Stewart.

"Unlike in other countries where Grands Prix are hosted - these governments have assisted in hosting and promoting the Grands Prix - our Government has made a decision it does not wish to do that."

But the Government responded immediately, defending its record of investment in and around Silverstone.

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: "Clearly the Government supports and wants to see a British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

"But the current commercial negotiations about the promotion of the Grand Prix are a matter between the BRDC and Formula One.

"We have done everything, and will continue to, to help bring the parties together to discuss the matter.

"The Government has already made significant financial contribution to motorsport and Silverstone - in 2002 we invested over 16m to support the industry and 8m to improve road access around the track."

Alex Hooton, chief executive of the BRDC, said: "I seriously think that it is possible there will be no Grand Prix in Great Britain next year.

"Negotiations will continue but as things currently stand, the outlook is bleak."

The chief executive of South Northamptonshire Council, Rob Tinlin, said: "It is a huge disappointment for the area and it is a huge blow for the BRDC who have worked very hard to improve the circuit and keep the Grand Prix.

"It will have a big impact for the local economy as the race brings in 30m to the area each year."

Interview: BRDC president Jackie Stewart

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