F1 Officials Meet to Discuss Silverstone Solution

The British Grand Prix's long-term future could be secured today at a top-level meeting to discuss how to keep the birthplace of Formula One on the sport's calendar.

F1 Officials Meet to Discuss Silverstone Solution

The British Grand Prix's long-term future could be secured today at a top-level meeting to discuss how to keep the birthplace of Formula One on the sport's calendar.

Formula One sources said the meeting, involving government officials, was expected to discuss a potential solution that would guarantee funds to upgrade Silverstone circuit without the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) having to borrow money.

"The solution is very simple and does not involve the BRDC borrowing any money," one Formula One source told Reuters. "This could save the British Grand Prix, frankly."

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone on Sunday gave the BRDC, which owns the former World War Two airfield where the races are staged, a month to guarantee improvements.

He said the BRDC needed to borrow 40 million pounds ($64.10 million) to prevent the race going elsewhere. Britain is home to most of Formula One teams and Silverstone hosted the first Formula One race in 1950.

Another source said that one of the strongest options on the table was for the government, through the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA), to underwrite a loan for the circuit to be developed.

Silverstone is the only circuit in Britain that meets Grand Prix standards, although the facilities remain antiquated compared to venues such as Malaysia and new circuits being built in China and Bahrain. International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Max Mosley also weighed in against the BRDC at the weekend.

He suggested they securitise their annual rent, which president Jackie Stewart has put at five million pounds and Ecclestone says is eight. Stewart has said the BRDC cannot be expected to do that.

"Why should we, a non-profit making private members' club, be expected to find those vast amounts? It is ridiculous," he told British newspapers.

Sources said Tuesday's meeting was set up before Ecclestone's comments were made and could lead to an agreement in principle. It followed an informal meeting at Silverstone involving Formula One Management, EMDA and promoters Brands Hatch Circuits but not the BRDC or Stewart.

"There was complete agreement on the potential solution," said a source, without giving details. "The ball is in his (Stewart's) court now."

It was not clear what concession the BRDC might be asked to make, although it was likely to involve a reduction in the rental charges to Brands Hatch Circuits.

"The meeting has a lot of significance but I don't think anyone will be turning around today and saying that the British Grand Prix is safe to 2015. But that may come in August or September," said a source.

Stewart will attend a news conference with BRDC chairman Martin Brundle on Wednesday.

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