British Grand Prix deal agreed

The British Grand Prix's place on the Formula 1 calendar has been assured after Silverstone's owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club, signed a five-year contract with Bernie Ecclestone on Thursday lunchtime.

British Grand Prix deal agreed

The deal comes after months of speculation about the fate of the event, which was axed from the schedule by Ecclestone at one point because commercial terms could not be agreed with the BRDC.

With the sport's governing body, the FIA, due to confirm the 2005 F1 calendar at a meeting of its World Council on Friday, talks between Ecclestone and the BRDC had moved up a gear this week as the government got involved in helping hatch a deal.

That involved local body, the East Midlands Development Agency, offering incentives, including tax breaks, to help the track meet the financial demands of hosting the race. Only this week, EMDA and Silverstone opened a new £4.2 million innovation centre to help motorsport businesses.

Sports minister Richard Caborn, who opened the Silverstone Innovation Centre on Thursday and has been involved in the negotiations over the race's future, said: "This is a great day for the future of the motor industry in the UK.

"We have been working with the EMDA and the local authority to develop this industrial cluster at Silverstone. This should not only secure the long-term future of all the teams operating out of the UK but will give the opportunity for others to join.

"This is consistent with the government's policy of developing world-beating centres of excellence for manufacturing."

BRDC president Jackie Stewart said: "There has been much public debate on the future of the British Grand Prix. We hope that his agreement heralds a more stable and secure future for the race and consequently for our industry and sport in the United Kingdom."

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