Hill: British GP chances still 50/50

Silverstone's chances of completing a deal to secure the future of the British Grand Prix are still only 50/50, claims Damon Hill - despite the wave of interest sparked by Lewis Hamilton and the track's plans to fulfil a £30 million redevelopment request

Hill: British GP chances still 50/50

With discussions between the Northamptonshire track and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone ongoing, Hill, who is president of circuit owners the British Racing Drivers' Club, said that he was still taking nothing for granted in completing a deal.

"I would say 50/50 was probably about right," Hill told reporters on Thursday when asked about the chances of Silverstone securing a deal beyond 2009. "I am not going to assume anything when it comes to F1.

"My experience is you should never make some presumptions, so it would be prudent to consider it a 50/50 figure. But, I am 100 percent confident that we have got what it will take and we can deliver what F1 will be proud of, and the UK will be proud of."

With planning permission for a new pits and paddock complex having been approved, the major stumbling block for pressing ahead with plans was now tying down a commercial deal with Ecclestone.

Hill admitted that the talks were stuck in a state of limbo now - with a new commercial deal unlikely until the track redevelopment is started, and the track redevelopment unlikely to start until a commercial deal is sorted.

"I liken it to the Aladdin's cave: the genie says give me the lamp and Aladdin says get me out of the cave and I'll give you the lamp," he explained.

"You're in this constant cyclical thing whereby in order to get our plans implemented we need to have a Grand Prix contract and in order to get the Grand Prix contract we have to have our planning.

"So it's going round in circles, but the circles are getting smaller and we're getting closer to the final stage I think."

He added: "We're definitely making progress. We've got the planning consent for our pit and paddock complex. It's one step at a time; the negotiations typically will be ongoing and I expect won't come to a conclusion until the final hour, whenever that is.

"If we're going to fulfil the building requirements then ideally we have to get going on it before the end of this year. So it's situation normal."

Hill also did not dismiss the threat posed by Donington Park, who revealed recently that they were in talks with Ecclestone about a deal to poach the British Grand Prix.

"I would never discount any other option. It's the nature of this free market that there's always another option to go to and we have to compete.

"A tremendous amount of work has gone in to placing Silverstone and getting it to the position where it's teed up to become a leading centre for world motorsport.

"I think it's ideally placed for Formula One and for all motorsport, and we also have ambitions to fulfil the objectives of the government, which is to provide education, vocational training and also promote the UK.

"We think we've got everything in place there to make us a very strong candidate for either investment or for Grand Prix contracts."

Hill also said that Silverstone would take nothing for granted about agreements that are held between the FIA and Formula One Management to guarantee the future of 'traditional' races - like the British GP.

"The British GP is an important event globally. It is conceived as being an intrinsic part of F1, but things can change and I can see that too.

"But, if there was a way of it becoming a protected event that would be of interest - but we are certainly not relying on it."

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