Bernie defends Brit GP decision

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has defended his decision to drop the British Grand Prix from next year's schedule and claimed that if he had accepted a cut-price offer to host the race then it would have been unfair on other venues paying a top-rate fee for their events

Bernie defends Brit GP decision

Ecclestone insisted that the decision he has taken was not motivated by personal greed to get as much money as possible, but was purely because he had to maintain a certain rate-card with venues - and he had already done as much as he could do to accommodate Silverstone.

It is understood that the BRDC offered Ecclestone $10 million per year to be promoters of the race, about $6 million less than Ecclestone was after. Another reason Ecclestone chose to reject the deal was that he was after a seven-year contract, whereas the BRDC was only willing to commit for three years.

"I have given them their chances for years," said a defiant Ecclestone. "I even offered to go into a joint venture deal with them to help out, but they refused that. I try to be fair and honest with everybody but I cannot give Silverstone what they want because that isn't fair to the other circuits around the world.

"The deal I offered them was already on the old terms and the cheapest in Europe and the rest of the world. It was a really super deal. We have gone along with them for a long time but I couldn't do any more. They don't want to take a risk. In fact, they don't want to do anything that doesn't suit them."

Ecclestone made comparisons between Silverstone's plight, where he would not receive a top-rate fee for a venue that he is not completely happy with, and Shanghai, which paid top whack and provided a state-of-the-art facility.

"We took a lot of time over Shanghai, getting the deal right and the people there went and built this magnificent circuit," explained Ecclestone. "Turkey next year will be great as well. You can't go around the world asking people to build these terrific facilities and then we have this thing back in England called Silverstone that we are ashamed of.

"Obviously, I regret that we can't have a British Grand Prix but this is a commercial deal and I have to be fair to everybody, not just Silverstone."

Speaking about the specifics of the deal, Ecclestone claimed that the BRDC could have done more to help save the race - and believed there was plenty of room for the club to make a profit hosting the British Grand Prix.

He added: "They came to me with a letter which more or less said, 'take it or leave it'. The obvious thing they should know is that when they say that to me, that is an opportunity to leave it. They say they can't make money out of it, but they have admitted they have made £8 million or £10 million out of the race in the past.

"I put up a third of the money for the improvements at the circuit and all they did was build car parks. That's it. They paid nothing for the circuit in the first place and they are saying they can raise £150 million by selling half the land. I don't know where all the money goes.

"I want to deal with a commercial organisation, not a gentleman's club, which is what has been happening at Silverstone for far too long."

The BRDC is still hoping that a last-minute intervention can save the race before the provisional 2005 calendar is issued at a meeting of the FIA World Council in Paris on October 13.

But, with France also set to be axed from the schedule, the difficulty both races will face in finding a way back onto the calendar is that they will now be the 18th race - which means they must come up with extra cash to pay the teams for competing there.

The Concorde Agreement, the document by which F1 is run, puts a limit of 17 races in a season. Any extra can only be added if the teams are unanimous in their support - which usually means they must be given financial compensation.

Having been unable to afford the race in the first place, this means getting even more finances on board will be virtually impossible for both Silverstone and Magny-Cours.

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