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  • British GP future just '50-50' - Damon Hill
  • Hamilton keeps press corps busy on Thursday
  • Mosley was warned of plot to destroy him
  • Coulthard, Glock collide in F1 testing

British GP future just '50-50' - Damon Hill
(GMM)  BRDC president Damon Hill has estimated Silverstone's chances of retaining the British grand prix beyond 2009 at just "50-50".

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is demanding higher race fees and substantial improvements to the circuit in Northamptonshire.

"I would say 50-50 is probably about right," Hill, also 1996 world champion, told British reporters at the Silverstone test on Thursday.

"It's one step at a time; the negotiations typically will be ongoing and I expect won't come to a conclusion until the final hour, whenever that is."

The track's owner, the British Racing Drivers' Club, has devised plans for new facilities at Silverstone, but money is still the key hurdle.

One ingredient in Silverstone's favor, however, is Lewis Hamilton, whose popularity must be credited for a sell-out crowd for next weekend's British grand prix.

10,000 attended the circuit on Thursday, to watch the McLaren driver simply top the test times.

"(He is) very important," Hill acknowledged.  "But I would not presume that because we have got Lewis Hamilton contending for the world championship, that guarantees the future of the grand prix."

Another factor on Britain's side is the apparent FIA protection - part of the contracts between the governing body and F1's owners - for the British GP and other 'traditional' races on the calendar.

But unlike some of the British media, Hill does not scoff at reports that Donington is a possibility to host the British grand prix from 2010, although admitting that the government is unlikely to come to Silverstone's rescue.

The 47-year-old, though, didn't want to wade too far into the murky politics between Ecclestone and the FIA's Max Mosley at present.

"We would like to avoid the taking of sides on that one.  But if there was a way of it becoming a protected event, that would be of interest -- but we are certainly not relying on that," Hill said.

Hamilton keeps press corps busy on Thursday
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton featured prominently in both the specialist motor racing and the mainstream media headlines on a busy Thursday in the UK.

In the morning, he arrived at Silverstone, where an impressive tally of 10,000 spectators would ultimately gather to watch him top the times on the final day of pre-British grand prix testing.

After two consecutive failures to score points, the McLaren driver was bullish about his chances on his home circuit.

"I haven't back-to-backed the new parts so I don't have a benchmark, but the car feels strong around here," he said.

Key championship rival Kimi Raikkonen was more than a second off the pace, but on Tuesday, the same Ferrari driven by Felipe Massa was fastest of the ten teams and cars in action.

"It is hard to say from the testing what fuel loads everybody else was running and where we are exactly, but the feeling is good," Raikkonen said on day three.

Hamilton, 23, then hopped from the Northamptonshire venue to London's Hyde Park, where the world's so-called 'A-list' celebrities gathered for a dinner to mark Nelson Mandela's upcoming 90th birthday.

Despite Hamilton's gripes at Magny-Cours a week ago about his recent press coverage, he was photographed at the affair at the same table as Oprah Winfrey and Elton John, and with his date, a member of the girl pop group Pussycat Dolls. 

Mosley was warned of plot to destroy him
(GMM)  Before attending the notorious military-themed orgy with five prostitutes, FIA president Max Mosley was reportedly warned at least three times that his enemies were out to destroy him.

Dean Attew, a London based business intelligence consultant who was also friends and a former colleague of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, told The Times newspaper that he personally warned Mosley.

Attew said he was contacted in late January - two months before the News of the World expose - by someone who was hatching a plot to discredit the FIA chief.

"We had a meeting and I was approached and told there was an open budget to effectively go out and source material that would bring Max to his knees and, more importantly, remove him from office and discredit him publicly," said Attew, co-founder of the corporate intelligence company Titon International.

He added: "They then went back and they came back a little while later and said, 'We are not going to pursue it for the time being'."

Attew, who told Ecclestone of the meeting, said the unnamed discreditors contacted him to test his loyalty to Mosley.

"Bernie then told Max -- I know this because Max later confirmed this to me.

"Because of the relationship I have with both of them, and Max knowing who I was, I assumed that the warning would be taken seriously," he said, adding that Mosley was also warned "by someone else" as well.

Despite Ecclestone's warning to Mosley, Attew said Bernie doubted the FIA president would be discredited in this way because "he's Mr. Boring".

Attew worked for Ecclestone's Formula One Group for four years until 2004.

Coulthard, Glock collide in F1 testing
(GMM)  On-track hostilities for the British grand prix got an early start this week, as two competitors collided during the final day of pre-race testing at the Silverstone circuit on Thursday.

Timo Glock, who drives for Toyota, "decided to attack" David Coulthard as the pair tackled the Stowe corner, the Scot's team Red Bull Racing said in a media document at the end of the day.

"The German driver immediately apologized, but didn't come round to the garage to help with repairs," the Milton-Keynes based squad's tongue-in-cheek PR department added.

Glock was stranded in the pits for two hours after the clash, as Toyota mechanics replaced his lost wing and rebuilt the rear of his car as a precaution.

"It was a misunderstanding -- when I turned in at the end of the Hangar straight David was there," Glock, 26, said.

"I just didn't see him so I apologize for that."

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