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We hear these same stories every year - that Silverstone needs upgrades to keep its Grand Prix. Yada Yada Yada. We're beginning to think it's a cheap way to get some PR to sell race tickets.

Sports minister Richard Caborn has given his seal of approval to plans to develop Northamptonshire's Silverstone track and safeguard its future on the Formula One circuit.

Silverstone has a contract with the sports governing body, the FIA, to host F1 until 2009, but problems with public access to the track, a lack of investment and a growing number of potential successors in the Far East and Asia have made a renewal of that deal increasingly uncertain.

The president of the British Racing Drivers' Club who own the circuit, Damon Hill, admitted earlier this month that the British Grand Prix's future was "hanging in the balance."

"The master plan is not only important to Silverstone and its continued hosting of the British Grand Prix, but also the development of the sport in this country," Caborn said.

"It gives a real opportunity to British motorsport to realize its ambitions in the not-too-distant future."

A major overhaul of existing facilities has been put forward with new grandstands and pit and paddock facilities estimated at a cost of £15-30 million at the centre of a proposal outlined with the support of local councils and regional development agencies.

The plans are also believed to include the construction of two new hotels, along with 300 houses and a science park on land owned by the BRDC. View London [Related article]

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