British GP set for green light

The long-running uncertainty over the future of the British Grand Prix could come to an end as early as tomorrow, autosport.com can reveal, with Silverstone's owners the BRDC poised to reach an agreement with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone over the race.

British GP set for green light

Following Ecclestone's 48-hour ultimatum issued on Tuesday, and the fact the FIA World Council is due to publish the 2005 F1 calendar on Friday, negotiations have been taking place behind the scenes to get the matter sorted as quickly as possible.

Sources close to the talks have told autosport.com that the BRDC's lawyers are now evaluating a final contract and that the club is "optimistic" that it can confirm the 2005 race will go ahead - with an announcement perhaps coming in Thursday.

Sports Minister Richard Caborn, who was at Silverstone on Wednesday for the opening of a new £4.2 million innovation centre to generate business for the Silverstone circuit, said that he believed next year's race would now go ahead barring an eleventh-hour hitch in the negotiations.

He said: "I understand there has been significant progress made this week and with all the legal details to be sorted out we could get an announcement in the next few days - but let's wait until tomorrow or the day after to see.

"The announcement will be welcome and that will give us the opportunity to move forward with things like this innovation centre which is the first stage of a major development here at Silverstone. This will help develop the motorsport industry in this country and the government wants to make sure that we can help the industry grow.

BRDC chief executive Alex Hooton told autosport.com that negotiations over the race were now in their final stages and an announcement should be made before the FIA World Council meeting in Monaco on Friday.

"In order to go on the calendar we have got to have a contract. We have a draft contract that we are looking at very constructively. It is with our lawyers, it's with Bernie's lawyers and we're hoping to be able to put together a deal ahead of the World Council meeting. So we want to make some sort of announcement before the end of the week."

The Silverstone Innovation Centre forms part of a joint investment between the government, through the East Midland Development Agency (EMDA) and the BRDC to attract businesses to the circuit and provide revenue to allow Silverstone to fund improvements to its facilities and infrastructure.

Caborn, who officially opened the innovation centre, said the facility would be just the first stage of a major investment plan from the government to help the motorsport industry.

"We have a vested interest in making sure the motorsport industry is successful. What happens in motor racing today is in the luxury car brand tomorrow and it's important we back this type of development. The Government has made a £16m commitment to the industry so far, which has been led by EMDA, and I think the private sector will now drive that forward."

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