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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Ecclestone made British GP promoter

Ecclestone made British GP promoter

April 20, 2004 20:46 IST

Silverstone's owners issued a guarded welcome on Tuesday to Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone taking over as promoter of the British Grand Prix from 2005.

"In the expectation that Mr Ecclestone wishes to retain the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, we welcome the acquisition of the rights to the event by FOA (Formula One Administration)," said the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC).

"We look forward to hearing Mr Ecclestone's plans for the future success and stability of the British Grand Prix."

The U.S. advertising giant Interpublic announced on Monday they had reached an agreement to terminate their contract to promote the troubled event at Silverstone until 2015.

As part of the deal with Ecclestone's FOA, Interpublic agreed to pay them $93 million.

Ecclestone has been a regular critic of the BRDC and Silverstone over plans to refurbish the former World War Two airfield that hosted the first Formula One Grand Prix in 1950.

He likened it in February to "an old house that claims to need only a few repairs. Actually it needs major reconstruction. I don't see a future for it."

However he sounded more conciliatory this month in Bahrain, whose lavish facilities are a world apart from Silverstone's, when he said that he would hate Formula One to leave its traditional venues.

The BRDC will continue to lease the circuit to Interpublic until the end of 2007, with the U.S. Group committed to paying some $62 million over the remaining term.

"The BRDC believes it is of paramount importance to the sport and industry in the UK that we retain the British Grand Prix at Silverstone," the BRDC said.

"We are continuing discussions with our partners, including FOA, the Interpublic Group and the British government and remain committed to playing our part in retaining the grand prix."

Andrew Waller, managing director of Interpublic's Silverstone Motorsport subsidiary, said it was a good deal for all parties and could provide the breakthrough necessary to secure substantial funding for renovation.

"What happens next for Silverstone is potentially very positive," he said. "The rights are in very safe hands with Bernie."


Alan Baldwin
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