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British and French GPs 'a done deal'
Alan Baldwin | November 10, 2004 11:52 IST
The British and French Formula One grands prix have been saved after teams struck a deal with Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday, according to Minardi boss Paul Stoddart.
"The deal is done. There is nothing stopping the French and British grands prix from going ahead (next year)," Stoddart told Reuters after nine of the 10 team principals and commercial supremo Ecclestone met at London's Heathrow Airport.
The British Racing Drivers' Club, which owns Silverstone circuit, said however they had yet to be officially informed of any solution by Ecclestone.
"If there is a new proposal to safeguard the British Grand Prix in 2005 which makes financial sense for the sport, the industry, the Club and especially the local economy, it will be seriously considered by the Board of the BRDC," it said.
Both traditional grands prix have been listed as provisional, subject to contracts being agreed, on a bigger than ever 19-race calendar.
Ecclestone, who draws up the calendar and holds the rights to promote the British Grand Prix but has said he will not do it himself, had threatened to axe the race after a running battle with the BRDC.
"There is a commercial agreement in place with Bernie for both races, with the agreement of nine of the 10 teams," said Stoddart, who runs the poorest outfit yet has played a pivotal role in organising his fellow bosses.
"The 10 teams will get paid an equal amount and each and every team will lose money on this, but we did it for the interests of the sport."
"All Ferrari have to do is accept the same amount of money and turn up and all (FIA president) Max (Mosley) has to do is agree (to the extra races)."
An FIA spokesman pointed out Mosley had already expressed his support for both races. Ferrari boss Jean Todt has said his team wants them to happen, although Tuesday's meeting was not attended by the champions who pleaded prior commitments.
Ferrari were shut out of a similar gathering at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix last month when the nine teams announced their own radical cost-cutting initiative.
That move was rejected by Ferrari because of its aim to eliminate most testing during the season and seek a single tyre supplier.
Stoddart said the Italian team's resistance to the initiative had been effectively bypassed, however, with the nine teams ending a tradition of in-fighting and bickering and agreeing to vote as one in future.
"We agreed a way to go forward as a group of nine on every sporting and technical issue for the remainder of the Concorde Agreement," said Stoddart, even if others regarded the likelihood of that really happening as slim.
The Concorde Agreement governs the running of the glamour sport, binding the teams, the governing FIA and Ecclestone until it expires at the end of 2007.
Stoddart asserted that a bloc of nine, voting together in Formula One commission meetings, could push through changes where previously they had foundered due to a lack of unanimity.
He said the nine had decided on Tuesday to reduce testing, under a voluntary agreement, by 50 percent next season and push for a single tyre supplier from 2006.
"We'd like to have a control tyre as soon as possible but realistically we can only vote this in for 2006."These moves are not anti-Ferrari, they are pro Formula One," added the team boss. "We have got to put Formula One back on the straight and narrow and take it forward in a professional way and we're doing that now."
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