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Mosley confident of British GP

FIA president Max Mosley followed up his presence in Shanghai with a visit to Suzuka, where he moved to allay fears that the British race, a world championship fixture since 1950, would not have a slot on next year's calendar

Asked whether, as a betting man, he would lay money on the British Grand Prix being on next year's calendar, he replied: "I think that it's got to be more likely on than not on."

The race has, of course, been doubtful because Silverstone circuit owners, the BRDC, have not agreed to match the fee demanded by Bernie Ecclestone to host the race. However, last week, a company called Brand Synergy, involving former world champion Nigel Mansell, claimed to have a seven-year licence agreement with Ecclestone and said that it is seeking a solution with the BRDC which would see the race safeguarded and the Silverstone site redeveloped. This is a long way from being agreed by BRDC members, however.

Mosley hinted, though, that the British Grand Prix could be faced with a date change if it appears on the 2005 World Championship calendar.

"The odds are in favour of the race because I can't imagine that one way or another they are not going to find a solution," he said. "It's the date that's going to be the problem because the calendar is filling up..."

The last time Silverstone lost its July date was in 2000 when an April race proved something of a disaster - the car parks turning into quagmires and the attendance down.

Talks on the future of the race resumed today (Monday) with three possibilities now in the pipeline. The BRDC is thought to be in favour of a government-backed venture which would see the East Midlands Development Agency buying 350 acres of the circuit for around £100 million.

This would provide the funds to build new facilities while also allowing them to do a deal as the promoters of the event. The drawback is that they want a three-year deal but Ecclestone is demanding a seven-year contract.

The other rescue plan is that drawn up by Brand Synergy led by Kim Cockburn with the support of 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell. Cockburn claimed last week that the consortium had a deal with Ecclestone and was in talks with the BRDC.

The final rescue effort has come from Bernie's Formula One Management company, who has offered to take over as promoter of the event. With it comes his terms though, which include the use of the circuit all year rent-free, the BRDC would still have to carry out the £150m of improvements, and in an added twist, would only have access to its clubhouse during the grand prix weekend.

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