Silverstone hopes for 2010 GP deal within ‘days’

UPDATE #3 Damon Hill says Silverstone will have to remain patient if it is to secure the long-term future of the British Grand Prix.

In his role as president of the British Racing Drivers' Club, which owns the Northamptonshire track, Hill was part of a delegation who travelled to last weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix hoping to strike a deal with Formula One's commercial rights controller Bernie Ecclestone.

The trip came after Donington Park, which had agreed a 17-year contract with Ecclestone to stage the race from next year, failed to secure the £135 million required for circuit upgrades.

Faced with a backdrop of Formula One's first twilight race held at the spectacular £800 million Yas Marina circuit, the talks proved fruitless. Even so, Hill refused to be downbeat and said the ball was at least rolling.

The 1996 World Champion said: "The groundwork has been done and it's best to see what evolves now.

"There was a lot of excitement when the opportunity came back and Bernie said he was prepared to discuss the situation.

"We did go over to Abu Dhabi to try and get a deal done, but the distraction of the weekend meant it was not the right time.

"I'm not despondent, though. What will be will be. I've pretty much always taken that view.

"So we'll let the dust settle and see what happens over the next week or so."

Silverstone cannot wait for too long, however, given that under normal circumstances they would have enjoyed over four months of ticket selling by now.

But Hill knows that Ecclestone will not be rushed and stressed the need for patience.

"It will be a shame if Bernie does let it drag on," he added.

"As a business Silverstone has kept itself primed and expecting to look to a renewal of its grand prix contract.

"It's geared up to run a grand prix, and the longer that goes on, the more damaging it is to that business without a contract.

"So we would very much like to get something sorted as soon as possible, but clearly Bernie is not in a hurry, he can wait.

"We can't force him. We just have to be patient because there are some things beyond your control, and this is probably beyond our control.

"All you can do is try your best and we'll see what unfolds.

"Bernie has controlled this (F1) for years, and nothing has changed there. SkySports
10/26/09 (GMM) Tuesday is the day on which Donington's grand prix contract could be formally terminated, according to Bernie Ecclestone.

Last Friday was track boss Simon Gillett's deadline to remedy the breach of contract after failing to come up with funding for the renovations required to stage the 2010 British grand prix.

But Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, told the Daily Mirror that Tuesday is actually Donington's final deadline, after which the Silverstone circuit officials could sign the deal that is currently in their possession.

"Silverstone have a contract on their table. All they have to do is sign it, get it back to me and the race could be theirs on Tuesday if things fall over with Donington," said the 78-year-old.

The newspaper said Ecclestone and Silverstone are 2 million pounds sterling apart in terms of the annual promoter's fee.

A Silverstone spokesman said the contract referred to by the billionaire is not "commercially viable", but Ecclestone insists he is not prepared to agree a "cut price" British grand prix deal.

10/25/09 Bernie Ecclestone has told Silverstone: "The British Grand Prix could be yours on Tuesday."

F1 ringmaster Ecclestone quashed fears he is trying to kill the nation's premier motorsport event as he revealed a contract is with Silverstone's chief negotiator waiting to be signed. Instead, Britain looks set to be embroiled in another row over just £2million that will damage the event.

Ecclestone's £11m offer puts Silverstone at the bottom of his European pricelist. But the Northamptonshire circuit, which declared a profit of just £660,000 this year, cannot afford to pay any more as the sport's owners take all revenues except seat sales.

Donington are expected to miss their final deadline on Tuesday after a last-ditch bid with a £135m bond issue fell through.

Ecclestone said: "Silverstone have a contract on their table. All they have to do is sign it, get it back to me and the race could be theirs on Tuesday if things fall over with Donington."

But a Silverstone spokesman said: "We've not been offered a commercially viable deal."

10/23/09 (GMM) The clock is ticking if a deal to keep Britain on the formula one calendar is to be made in time, Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips said on Friday.

He was speaking after contracted 2010 British grand prix venue Donington's funding scheme collapsed, therefore making it almost impossible that the race will switch to the Leicestershire circuit for its July 11 date on next year's calendar.

Bernie Ecclestone has said that when Donington's contract is definitively voided, talks with the event's current venue Silverstone will take place.

Phillips told SportsPro that he is hoping for an imminent deal.

The Northamptonshire venue needs a certain amount of lead-time essentially for the sale of tickets and the preparation of the circuit, but Phillips declined to name an actual deadline.

"That point is coming fast," he said. "You've got to sell an awful lot of tickets to break even with a grand prix and it's the last few tickets where actually you start to make a profit.

"To an extent I think it's (a question of) 'when does it not become viable to run a grand prix?'" Phillips added.

He claims that, had Silverstone not been delayed by the Donington situation, about 30 per cent of the tickets for the 2010 event would already be sold.

"We're hopeful that something will resolve itself in the next few days," said Phillips.

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