Even without Bernie Ecclestone adding fuel to the fire by suggesting, on Saturday, that the British Grand Prix would return to Silverstone should Donington Park fail to pull off what many F1 insiders are already considering to be a miracle, support for the current venue was never in short supply over the weekend.

Almost every driver on the F1 grid - plus notable past masters such as Nigel Mansell and Sir Stirling Moss - managed to fit a positive plug for the Northamptonshire airfield into an interview somewhere, while the majority of those attending the event hoping to see Jenson Button send Silverstone out on a high were of a similar opinion - preferring to see the home of the BRDC retained over the switch to Simon Gillett's revamped Donington Park.

Addressing the crowd at the now traditional post-race 'party', Button insisted that the capacity crowd had 'spoken without saying a word' particularly after the sparse turnouts in Turkey and Spain.

"The last couple of races have not had many people, so to come here and see all these spectators... we don't need to say anything," the championship leader claimed, "This grand prix is the most spectacular in F1 - Monaco is special, but it is nothing like this. There has to be a GP here next year."

The Brawn GP driver joined reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton in opening the British GP weekend with praise for the circuit which kick-started the F1 world championship 59 years ago.

"It is a very special race," Button insisted, "I think, for both of us, when we were learning how to drive in single-seaters, this was a place we enjoyed very much. This is a circuit that I love. It is a fantastic, fast flowing circuit like Spa and Suzuka. It is one of the true greats and it has been for the last few decades. It is a pity it won't be on the calendar next year. I think a lot of drivers will agree with me and a lot of fans will agree also.

"It is your home grand prix, so it is always going to be very special, but the British fans are fantastic. There are so many fans in Britain for motorsport and for Formula One. Last year was a sell out crowd and I am guessing it will be the same this year - you don't get that in many circuits around the world, especially the way the economy is at the moment."

Hamilton, who has won at Silverstone in spectacular fashion in both GP2 and F1, echoed almost every word, reserving his greatest respect for the fans that line the circuit whatever the weather, and whatever the chances for the British drivers.

"It is a fantastic circuit and it is great to come here and try, in some way, to emulate the winners and the world champions that have been here in the past, to do same thing they did and bring the win back home for the Brits," he noted.

"The fans are incredible here compared to any circuit through the year. This is the one place that has the best vibe and has the most people standing there. It could be thunderstorms, it could be any type of weather, but they will still be standing up, holding their umbrellas or whatever it is. They never seem to give up with their support and it is as important to them, as it is to us drivers and all the teams."

It wasn't only the British drivers speaking out in favour of the venue, however, with both Red Bull driver effusive in their praise during the post-race press conference.

"Silverstone, what an amazing track," admitted Mark Webber, who spent his formative years racing in the UK before winning at the circuit in F3000, "We love driving F1 cars here, and it is just incredible to go through that first sector, lap after lap after lap. It is a brilliant place for an F1 car and certainly destroys a lot of the other venues we have been at in the last few years."

Team-mate Sebastian Vettel joined Button and Hamilton in paying tribute to the British fans, even admitting that, for a moment, he wished he had been an Englishman in order to give the crowd what it really wanted.

"I think, at this fantastic circuit, everyone of us is enjoying it a lot," he commented, "Fast corners, it is a dream really, you have to stay focused and keep your eyes open all the time. It is not easy.

"It is only my second time here, but I enjoyed it so much - when I looked left and right in the last two laps, the people were already standing up and clapping and cheering. It was fantastic. I have to thank every single person in the grandstands. It was fantastic. The atmosphere was great. This is what I was dreaming of when I saw the first grands prix here in Silverstone in the era of [Nigel] Mansell and so on, so it is kind of unreal now to think I am here and I have made it."

Speaking after the event, Silverstone MD Richard Phillips summed up the mood, particularly following Ecclestone's promise, live on British television, that the circuit would be first alternative should Donington's bid falter.

"The support for Silverstone and the British Grand Prix over the past three days - from fans, drivers and teams - has been overwhelming," he admitted, "The fans have a real affinity with Silverstone and the drivers love coming here. It's a fantastic circuit. You just have to look at the attendance figures over the past three days, and Sebastian Vettel's reaction to winning here, to see that Silverstone is a very special place. We have the best fans in the world and I sincerely hope to see them back at Silverstone next year.

"There have been growing concerns over Donington Park's ability to host the British Grand Prix, in 2010 and beyond, but comments over the weekend from Mr Ecclestone and the FIA have been reassuring. The support from fans over this weekend has undoubtedly had an impact on the way they are viewing the future of the British Grand Prix and Silverstone.

"We've said all along that Silverstone is ready to step in if Donington's plans fall over, and that remains the case. Silverstone has never looked so good. This year's British Grand Prix was phenomenal, one of the best-run and well-supported events I have ever worked on, and we're hopeful that we'll see everyone back here next year."