Stewart: GP loss would be 'irresponsible'

Three-time world champion Jackie Stewart insists that it would be "irresponsible" of the UK government not to help safeguard the future of the British Grand Prix

Stewart: GP loss would be 'irresponsible'

Stewart, who preceded Damon Hill as president of the British Racing Drivers' Club, believes that politicians must be willing to play a larger role in ensuring the future of the race.

"We were the first to hold a world championship grand prix in 1950 and we've never missed it since," Stewart told the BBC's grand prix coverage. "To lose that now would be irresponsible for the sport itself, maybe for the commercial rights holder and for the British government.

"They have supported many other sports far and beyond anything that they have ever given to motor-racing. It's no good any MP telling me that motor-racing is a rich sport and that the government could not be seen to be rescuing it. That is wrong.

"It is a very successful industrial sport that brings jobs to our country and prestige to us on a global basis. We must make it stay in Britain and our politicians should be playing a bigger role in that."

Stewart echoed Bernie Ecclestone's suggestion that the government should be willing to invest a tiny fraction of the costs needed to run the 2012 London Olympics to save the British Grand Prix. The Scot has long advocated such a course of action.

"I have been saying that for a great many years," he told the BBC. "Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone disagreed with me. They did not think that we should be asking for government money and were quite vocal in that criticism of me.

"I'm glad they've changed their minds because both of them have said the government money should be supplied.

"When you see what has been done for the Olympics and the amount of money for some stadiums that maybe will only be used for that and then broken down, it would be stupid of the government [not to help the British Grand Prix].

"We have got an industry that is dependent on motorsport. Nearly 50,000 jobs in the UK would be at risk. That has got to be kept alive for UK PLC to keep the British GP in this country."

Stewart also supported Silverstone's suitability to take over should Donington Park not be able to host the race in the wake of fresh concerns over the viability of holding the British Grand Prix at the 1993 European GP venue.

"If Donington were unable to hold the British Grand Prix for financial or other reasons, then the natural suggest would be that Silverstone would be the perfect place for it to run," said Stewart.

"I hope they could relight the fires at Silverstone to at least hold it in 2010 and then try to get the government and other people involved to create facilities that would be acceptable to Bernie Ecclestone and the commercial rights holders that he represents, as well as the FIA."

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