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Page last updated at 18:31 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 19:31 UK

Hamilton vows to save British GP

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport at Silverstone

Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton is the current world champion

Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has pledged to do whatever he can to save the British Grand Prix on the eve of the final race at Silverstone.

Construction at its new Donington Park home is behind schedule, with fears the race could be scrapped in 2010.

"I'm pushing as hard as I can to ensure we keep the British GP - wherever it is," said the English world champion.

Championship leader Jenson Button added: "Not to have a race here would be a shocker and very disappointing."

Formula 1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone has granted Donington Park a 17-year deal to stage the British GP after Silverstone, which is owned by the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), stalled over signing a new contract.


But Donington's redevelopment, which is led by leaseholder Simon Gilett, has been dogged by legal disputes over unpaid rent and delayed planning permission.

Ecclestone has warned that if the Leicestershire circuit is not ready in time then there will be no going back to Silverstone.

Hamilton insists he and Button must use their status as British drivers to make sure the British race, which has been on the F1 calendar since 1950, is not consigned to history.

"We can use our position to show how important the British race is," the 24-year-old Stevenage-born driver said.

"I'm sure if we want to call up the Prime Minister we could!

"People may not realise what it would be like without the British GP and how important it is for motorsport.

"We need to pull together and get support from the government, backers and wherever we can. As long as we have a British Grand Prix, F1 will remain a great sport to be part of.

"It's not just the drivers and teams that are affected - the grand prix provides so many jobs and we must not lose those."

The chairman of the BRDC, Robert Brooks, also cast fresh doubt on the future of the race on Thursday as he said he did not believe Donington would be in a position to stage next season's race.

"We don't think, from where we sit, that a summer grand prix in 2010 is a possibility at Donington," he said.

"I've looked at what we have been told about its business plans, and we have looked at the numbers that have been revealed to the public about the debenture schemes, we have run those numbers.

"Silverstone is ready for the 2009 grand prix, so that means it is ready for 2010. I hope we can continue to discuss the possibility of a 2010 race."

There's one more thing that's more important than winning this GP isn't there?

Jenson Button, looking at the season as a whole

Meanwhile, Button, who leads the 2009 drivers' championship by 26 points, is focused on his first British GP victory - and his seventh of the season.

"I'm coming into this race feeling confident because the last few races have been fantastic," said the Brawn GP driver.

"We have some small aerodynamic updates to the car and [team-mate] Rubens Barrichello will be my main competitor, but there will be others.

"It's a fast, flowing circuit and one I enjoy driving as well as it being my home Grand Prix and the last race at Silverstone for we don't know how long."

However special winning a first British GP may be for Button, he insists he is still focused on his long-term ambition regardless of what happens this weekend.

"There's one more thing that's more important than winning this GP isn't there?" said Button, whose best result at Silverstone is fourth in 2004.

"This race is one of 17 and winning the world championship is the most important thing for any driver.

"Whatever happens here, I will still come away leading the championship by 16 points at worst, so that will keep me relaxed."

For now, Button is cautious about looking beyond the end of the season in light of the political wrangling between F1 teams' association Fota and governing body the FIA.

His Brawn GP team must submit an unconditional entry to the FIA on Friday 19 June to guarantee their place on the grid on 2010.

But team principal Ross Brawn is aligned to Fota, who are reluctant to sign up for next season under the FIA president Max Mosley's proposed rules and regulations with some teams issuing veiled threats of racing in alternative series'.

"We want to be racing next year in the best category, with the best drivers and with teams that have history in Formula 1," said Button.

"I cannot see there not being any racing next year or that the teams that are racing this year will not be here - so we're not thinking of that situation."

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see also
Silverstone to say goodbye to F1
13 Jun 09 |  Formula 1
Hill backs Silverstone's GP bid
24 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Legal settlement saves British GP
05 Jun 09 |  Formula 1
Legal battle threatens British GP
24 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
British GP will move to Donington
04 Jul 08 |  Formula 1
Donington to bridge F1 gap
13 Feb 09 |  Formula 1
New Donington is granted approval
09 Jan 09 |  Formula 1
Donington Park pit plan revealed
10 Jul 08 |  Leicestershire
Donington owner rejects sceptics
11 Dec 08 |  Formula 1
Team bosses back Donington switch
05 Jul 08 |  Formula 1
Donington 'to be ready for 2010'
06 Jul 08 |  Formula 1
Ecclestone slams Silverstone
07 Jul 02 |  Formula One

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CBS Sports Notes: Ecclestone says F1 might still return to Silverstone - 1 hr ago
Race Tech Magazine Ecclestone: If Donington fails, Silverstone will keep British GP - 5 hrs ago
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Malaysian Insider Silverstone prepares to say farewell - 22 hrs ago
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