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British GP deal very close - Hill

Damon Hill

Silverstone deal close - Hill

Silverstone is "very close" to agreeing a deal with Bernie Ecclestone to host the 2010 British Grand Prix, according to the circuit's president Damon Hill.

Silverstone is the only hope for the race's future following the failure of Donington Park, which had a contract for 2010, to raise the necessary funds.

"We are very close. It comes down to a little bit of give on the negotiation and I think we're there," said Hill.

"We are doing everything we can to get the grand prix. It has been non-stop."

Hill, who is president of the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) which owns Silverstone, said "I'm not involved in the discussions but I've been keeping abreast, until it's done, there's nervousness that it's achievable but we are doing everything we possibly can."

Silverstone Holdings operate the track and their managing director Richard Phillips said "We're getting a lot closer and we are hopeful. We have to try to secure this for the UK.

We want Silverstone to be better. It's really a question for the sport itself - whether it regards venues as key elements and stakeholders in the sport

Damon Hill

"These five-year-deals we've had in the past are no good. We need a longer term deal - that is key to securing the investment we need in the circuit. We're not there yet, but we're optimistic we will be."

Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone has long been critical of the facilities at Silverstone and contrasted the venue to the sparkling purpose built £250m Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

"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.

606: DEBATE
jaguarlass

Donington's struggle to raise the required finances highlights the difficulties circuits face in trying to keep pace with newer venues like Abu Dhabi, which is hosting the season finale this weekend and is part of a £32bn state-funded development.

"Silverstone is a private entity and it has to cut it cloth accordingly," said Hill.

"If you don't you end up with wreckage on your hands and we don't want that.

"It's important to distinguish between Silverstone itself - a venue that has been nurtured - and the fans. They have made F1 what it is today," continued Hill.

"We need a good venue for the British GP and Silverstone has been going to the end of the earth to provide a venue.

"We want it to be better. It's really a question for the sport itself - whether it regards venues as key elements and stakeholders in the sport.

"We're doing everything we can to get the grand prix. The team has gone through the numbers. It has been non-stop. Trying to work out how we deliver on the demands for a grand prix."

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."



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see also
F1 boss urges Silverstone to sign
30 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
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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