|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Ecclestone sets Silverstone deadline
Alan Baldwin | December 07, 2004 11:09 IST
Silverstone's owners have been given a two-day deadline to agree a deal to keep next year's British Grand Prix on the Formula One calendar.
"If it (the contract) is done before Thursday, they are on the calendar. If it's not, they're not," Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone said at meeting of team principals in London on Monday.
"They can't be on the calendar unless they've got a contract."
Failure would mean Britain's absence from the calendar for the first time since the championship started at Silverstone in 1950 but Ecclestone, 74, said he was sure the troubled race would be held.
"I guarantee there will be Silverstone. Bernie's word," he said.
Team bosses were divided, with Frank Williams sounding a lone dissenting voice against the optimism of McLaren's Ron Dennis and six other principals attending a meeting at London's Heathrow airport.
"There won't be a race next year," said Williams.
In a rare spirit of openness in the highly secretive world of Formula One, Reuters was invited into the meeting room after the discussions. Such sessions are usually cloaked in secrecy.
Ferrari and Sauber were absent but Ecclestone said that he and eight bosses had signed a commercial agreement for the French and British Grands Prix and was confident the other signatures would be forthcoming.
Minardi boss Paul Stoddart said he was sure there would be 19 races, more than ever before, when the official calendar is approved by the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) in Monaco this week.
"Silverstone and Magny Cours were signed off today. Nothing can destroy Magny Cours and the only thing that can destroy Silverstone is the BRDC (British Racing Drivers' Club)," Stoddart said.
"The teams have done their bit, Bernie has done his bit and its down to the BRDC."
Ecclestone said he had sent the BRDC a contract for next year with an option for a further six years. The circuit owners have said in the past that they would prefer a two-year deal with a five-year option.
"The difference in opinion between FOM (Ecclestone's Formula One Management) and the BRDC is not that big," said Dennis. "All of the teams feel it's not an insurmountable problem."
"Everybody believes it will be done."
Ecclestone said the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, champions Ferrari's home grand prix which has also been threatened, would go ahead.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage