Bernie backs non-Champ race

With the British Grand Prix likely to be removed from the 2005 World Championship calendar when the World Motor Sport council firms up the official dates on December 10, both FIA president Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone have commented on the possibility of a non-championship race at the Northamptonshire track next year

Bernie backs non-Champ race

A non-championship event would mean that circuit owners, the BRDC, would not have to pay the onerous £7.5 million fee to Ecclestone's Formula 1 Management for a championship race.

The willingness of the teams to turn up for a non-championship Silverstone amid a hectic championship schedule, with no points to play for, would be highly debatable, however. And it would mean a throwback to the old days of negotiating individual deals with teams. What, for instance, would be the likelihood of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari making the trip to Silverstone for a race that did not count for the championship? The teams, remember, would be under no compulsion to turn up.

Taking about Silverstone's 2005 prospects, Mosley told autosport.com: "As far as being part of the championship is concerned, we won't know until Bernie presents us with his final proposal for a calendar, which he hasn't done yet. But they could have a non-championship race. They could just apply and then do their own deals with the teams and do the best they can. And I think they'd have a very successful event. In fact, personally, I can't understand why they don't apply for a non-championship event if they really have financial problems because most of the teams are local and they could afford to pay a bit for the non-locals. But it's up to them."

Ecclestone told British newspapers in Sao Paulo: "I think it would be a cracking idea. The BRDC says it cannot afford to pay the prices we charge everyone else around the world, so this would be the ideal solution for them. They can set their own date, prices, get their own sponsors, do their own TV deal... maybe they can get on with rebuilding and come back and talk to me in a couple of years about getting back on the official calendar."

Reading between the lines, both Ecclestone and Mosley no doubt view the chances of a non-championship Silverstone as highly remote. Although in years gone by, non-championship Formula 1 races such as the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch and the International Trophy at Silverstone were fixtures on the F1 calendar, many leading F1 figures have said in the past that the sport has moved on to such an extent that non-championship races are no longer viable.

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