There was uproar last week when it was revealed that the provisional 2005 F1 calendar did not feature the British Grand Prix but Silverstone is not dead and buried yet. Bernie Ecclestone rejected a bid from the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC)...
There was uproar last week when it was revealed that the provisional 2005 F1 calendar did not feature the British Grand Prix but Silverstone is not dead and buried yet. Bernie Ecclestone rejected a bid from the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) to promote the race and dropped the event from next year's schedule.
However, if a contract can be signed the GP could be reinstated -- but the shortfall of money in the BRDC's offer would have to be made up. The teams would also have to agree to an 18 race calendar. "The BRDC have a contract, they need to sign it," Ecclestone told BBC radio. "We also have to get all the teams to run in 18 races. Then we could probably get the FIA to agree with that."
Ecclestone agreed to reduce the reported ?9 million fee demanded of the BRDC after pressure from UK Sports Minister Richard Caborn. "In the end there was about ?3m difference but Richard Caborn asked me 'Bernie can't you help?'" Ecclestone explained. "So we split the difference -- about ?1.5m."
Ecclestone thinks the BRDC could have found the extra finances needed by appealing to businesses in Northamptonshire that stand to lose out if Silverstone is dropped. "The Northampton area was going to lose ?30m or ?40m if this race went away," he commented.
"I thought they would have said, 'You're short of ?1.5m, we'll put that in because we're still ?28m better off.' But nobody's done any of those things, nobody wants to give anything. They expect us to do everything and we have."
The French Grand Prix is also in doubt for next season -- initially the calendar featured 19 possible dates but it appears 17 is the most likely number. With the additions this year of Bahrain and Shanghai, and Turkey set to join in 2005, two races would have to be dropped to maintain a total of 17.
If a solution can be found for the British GP there could be 18 races, but even if Silverstone is absent in 2005 it may return -- if it is upgraded. "If they want to take a couple of years off and rebuild the circuit, we're happy to come back again," said Ecclestone. "I didn't want to leave but it won't be my fault if there isn't a British Grand Prix, that's for sure."