Government rallies behind GP

British Grand Prix organisers have been handed another boost in their hopes of securing the event's long-term future with Minister for Sport Richard Caborn indicating on Thursday that the government was now doing everything it could to help. The backing comes just 24 hours after Ferrari and the FIA said they were also in favour of the race taking place

Government rallies behind GP

Although a final contract between Silverstone's owner, the British Racing Drivers' Club, and Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone still needs to be agreed, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the matter should be fairly straightforward for 2005 - even if there is still some way to go over a long-term contract for 2006 and beyond.

Speaking in reaction to the news that Ecclestone, the teams and the sport's governing body were united in their bid to get Silverstone's place on the calendar confirmed for 2005, Caborn made it clear that the government was now hoping to seize the fantastic opportunity it offered the British motor sport industry.

"This deal is excellent news for not just the thousands of Formula 1 fans in the UK, but the motor sport industry that revolves around the Silverstone Grand Prix as well," he said. "It now represents a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved in UK motor sport to further enhance the industry's reputation as a world leader.

"We are now determined through the partnership of the British Racing Drivers' Club, local authorities and the Development Agencies to not just make the necessary circuit improvements but build the world's best high performance motor sport industry cluster too. With F1's many British based teams now remaining on these shores, we will have the continued supply of 40,000 jobs as well.

"I particularly welcome Bernie Ecclestone's FOM organisation and all the F1 teams' decision to run the extra races that have allowed Silverstone on to the 2005 calendar and his decision to take on the promotion of the British Grand Prix next year.

"This has undoubtedly been a tough few months for everyone involved in negotiations. But I hope the announcement presents a new chance for us all to work together to achieve what are our common goals - to see F1 continue at Silverstone and the British motor sport industry to prosper in the world wide business market."

Autosport.com understands that Caborn met with Ecclestone for a private meeting on Wednesday afternoon, where he was told of the plans for Ecclestone to take over the promotion of the 2005 event.

The one major sticking point, however, is likely to be how long Silverstone's place on the calendar is guaranteed. It is believed that as well as offering a deal for next season, Ecclestone wants the BRDC to agree to a further six-year option - something the club is believed to be reluctant to agree to.

The major fear is that although negotiations have saved the British Grand Prix for now, it could merely be the precursor to a fresh battle over the race's future in 12 months' time.

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