- British GP
Ecclestone sets deadline for Silverstone deal
Bernie Ecclestone has issued a deadline for Silverstone to sign up to host the British Grand Prix in 2010. Since Donington Park announced it had failed to raise the finances to hold the event, Silverstone has been in talks with Ecclestone about a new contract to bring the race back to Northamptonshire.
It is understood he is looking for £12 million a year from Silverstone to hold the grand prix, plus a 7% escalator fee year on year. However, Silverstone's reluctance to agree on financial terms has led to Ecclestone setting a deadline of December 11 - the next FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting.
"The World Council will meet and we will just pull it off [the calendar] - we will have to," Ecclestone told the The Times. "We'll have no other choice, if we don't have a contract. We shouldn't have anything on the calendar unless we have a contract in place."
He added that if the race was scrapped it would not be the end for the British Grand Prix, but insisted a deal may still happen this year. "They are close and they know they are close," he said. "It's not the terms and conditions so much as whether the investors are prepared to bankroll them and take the risk."
With the prospect of two British drivers, Button and Hamilton, fighting for the world championship next year Ecclestone is keen for the race to go ahead. Yet he made clear the grand prix wouldn't receive special terms to protect it like Monaco and Monza.
"Of course we want a British Grand Prix. I've been spending an awful lot of time trying make sure it does happen, but there is no chance of an exceptional contract for Silverstone. Why should there be?"
Damon Hill - chairman of the British Racing Drivers' Club that owns Silverstone - also admitted a deal was close, but made clear that it was his responsibility to maintain the financial wellbeing of the circuit.
"The club does not want to sign up for something that puts it in peril," said Hill. "Bernie doesn't care whether you lose your shirt or not - he wants to deal with someone who can take a chance. We saw what happened with Donington and so there is a point at which it becomes a fine line between signing a contract or not."