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Page last updated at 14:13 GMT, Friday, 30 October 2009

F1 boss urges Silverstone to sign

Bernie Ecclestone

No more Silverstone talks - Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone says he would be "very upset" not to see a British Grand Prix in 2010 - but that he will not cut a cheap deal to ensure it goes ahead.

Formula 1's impresario said a deal was on the table for Silverstone, now the only available track after Donington failed to raise the required funds.

"We've been negotiating for too long," Ecclestone told BBC Sport.

"That deal is better than anybody else's deal anyway so if they don't like it, it's OK."

The proposed move from Silverstone to Donington Park for 2010 and beyond collapsed because the company redeveloping the circuit failed to raise the £135m funding required.

Silverstone need to go and buy a pen

Bernie Ecclestone, when asked what Silverstone needs to do to secure the British GP

Silverstone is now trying to ensure there will be a British race next year, but Ecclestone is adamant the deal he has offered is non-negotiable - and that the circuit's facilities will need modernising.

The 79-year-old contrasted Silverstone with the new state-of-the-art Yas Marina track in Abu Dhabi, which is hosting the season finale this weekend and is part of a £32bn state-funded development.

Ecclestone said: "People will start to understand when they see these sort of things, what we've been complaining about with Silverstone and Magny-Cours [in France] and all those places.

"It's not just here but everywhere that has raised the standard so [much] higher. This is just even on top of that.

"It's not just a case of [Silverstone] signing the contract and paying. They must raise their standard.

"They have a contract if they want to sign it. I'd be delighted. If they don't want to sign it it's OK."

Asked if there was anything Silverstone could do to speed up a deal, Ecclestone said: "They need to go and buy a pen."

The contract on the table is believed to demand a £12m fee for 2010, with an increase of 7% per year after that.

The negotiations with Ecclestone are being handled by Silverstone Holdings Ltd, the business arm of Silverstone, which is owned by the British Racing Drivers' Club.

Neil England, the non-executive chairman of Silverstone Holdings, has been conducting the talks with Ecclestone.

England was not available for interview when contacted by BBC Sport on Friday.

On Thursday, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson contacted Ecclestone to stress the importance of Formula 1 and the British GP to the UK.

"This is a very British institution and every effort must be made to keep the race in the UK," said Mandelson.

"Losing it would be a body blow to UK sport, the teams, and the fans. Bernie reassured me he was doing everything possible to maintain the British Grand Prix in the UK. "

Donington Park
Donington faced legal and planning issues after winning the initial contract

The British GP has been held every year since 1948 and has a rich history, while recently English drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have won 2008 and 2009 world titles respectively with Brackley-based Brawn also clinching this year's constructors' crown.

Former world champion Sir Jackie Stewart told BBC Sport that he believes the F1 heritage and know-how Britain possesses means it is important the race is not lost.

"There must be a British Grand Prix," he said. "And I think Bernie knows that too.

"Races like Turkey and Abu Dhabi… all the races in those countries are government-financed. The British government doesn't do that.

"I hope and pray it comes true [that Silverstone lands the deal], but it must be affordable. If it's affordable then it will happen. You cannot have it and lose millions.


"We must improve the facilities - not only for the F1 people and the media - but for the spectators too. To do that, you've got to be able to make money to spend money.

"We have to keep the races that started it all. Where did the modern era of Formula 1 motor racing begin? Silverstone. It is an essential to keep that with us - we do need history and tradition."

Former F1 world champion Damon Hill, president of the BRDC, said on Tuesday that he feared the future of the British GP is far from certain because of competition from around the world - such as countries like Korea.

"F1 can go anywhere in the world and get a huge amount of money," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"That's what Bernie's wrestling with. But it's not his job to give a discounted job to the UK."

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see also
McLaren to fight for British GP
28 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Hill fears for British GP future
27 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
No Donington GP, says Ecclestone
29 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Silverstone warned by Ecclestone
24 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
F1 could mean boost for Donington
13 Oct 09 |  People and Places
Donington confident on grand prix
03 Oct 09 |  Leicestershire
Donington quiet as deadline nears
02 Oct 09 |  Leicestershire
Ecclestone sends Donington threat
26 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Donington track shuts for F1 work
24 Sep 09 |  Leicestershire
British GP is secure - Ecclestone
20 Jun 09 |  Formula 1
Donington secures 17-year F1 deal
15 Jun 09 |  Leicestershire

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