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Last Updated: Friday, 10 December, 2004, 05:19 GMT
Stewart makes Silverstone pledge
Jackie Stewart
Stewart says he enjoys a cordial relationship with Ecclestone
Sir Jackie Stewart has vowed to start the process of improving Silverstone after securing the British Grand Prix for another five years.

The British Racing Drivers' Club boss and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone signed a contract through to 2009 on Thursday.

But Ecclestone has warned he will not renew the contract again if facilities at the circuit are not improved.

"The contract gives us the stability and time to do things we know need to be done," BRDC president Stewart said.

After months of wrangling, the two parties agreed at the last minute to a deal which keeps the race at Silverstone for the next five years.

But with the Northamptonshire track's facilities trailing behind new venues such as Shanghai or Malaysia, Stewart knows improvements need to be made.

"We're relieved that we've been able to retain the British Grand Prix in this country as I'm sure Bernie is too," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

"We are also looking for options to the future. Now that the terms have been found suitable to both Bernie and the BRDC the five-year deal is much better for us because we have stability and are in a position to get planning permission.

"It's what is affordable and where you can get the money from. The biggest issue for anyone who wants to do improvements is you need the money to afford them and we are doing what we can to afford them."

Ecclestone insists he never wanted to drop Britain from the calendar but warned he would have to consider it again if the BRDC do not upgrade the ageing venue.

I think he (Ecclestone) has done a great job in turning Grand Prix racing into what it is today
Jackie Stewart
He said: "If they want to improve them they will. If they are not improved by the time the contract runs out it won't be renewed - we've given them plenty of time to improve them. I've never wanted to lose the British Grand Prix."

Ecclestone and Stewart waged a public war of words during the negotiations but tensions seem to have eased since the agreement was signed.

When asked who was to blame for the near loss of the race, Ecclestone replied "probably the people at the BRDC", but Stewart was keen to play down any talk of a rift.

The three-time world champion, who was issued with a writ from Ecclestone after comments made on television, said: "The two sides do get on all right.

"I get on quite well with Bernie one on one and the people who have been working with Bernie have been able to get on with him.

"I don't think he's said much against Jackie Stewart. I think he's done a great job in turning Grand Prix racing into what it is today and he should be complimented on that."

Interview: BRDC president Jackie Stewart

Interview: Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone

Interview: Jordan F1 team owner Eddie Jordan

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