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Ecclestone trying to save GP - British minister
Ecclestone talks to Sebastian Vettel
(GMM)  An official of the UK government has revealed he this week pleaded with Bernie Ecclestone to safeguard the future of the British grand prix.

Peter Mandelson, the business secretary, told the Times newspaper he phoned the F1 chief executive, amid reports of the demise of contracted 2010 venue Donington and stalling talks with the existing race host Silverstone.

"I stressed to him the importance of formula one and the British grand prix to the UK," Mandelson said.

The British government provides no direct financial support to the grand prix.

"This (the GP) is a very British institution and every effort must be made to keep the race in the UK," Lord Mandelson added.

"Bernie reassured me he was doing everything possible to maintain the British grand prix in the UK."

Ecclestone in Abu Dhabi confirmed that a deal for a 2010 British GP is not yet in place, but interestingly denied that he and Silverstone are fundamentally divided.

"There isn't (a difference of opinion) actually," said the 79-year-old.  "As far as I'm concerned, no problems."

Earlier this year, Sir Frank Williams confidently predicted that the breakaway threat would come to nothing.  Now, he is similarly confident he will be travelling to Silverstone mid next year.

"Silverstone will always be there in F1 and they deserve to keep the grand prix because it is a great circuit," he told Gulf News.

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