Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that he is prepared to honour his 'promise' to return the British Grand Prix to Silverstone, claiming that he has offered the venerable airfield circuit a new deal following the apparent collapse of Donington Park's bid to host the event.
Having confirmed that he would not be penalising Donington for its failure, Ecclestone disclosed that Silverstone - which has staged Britain's round of the F1 world championship continuously since 1987 - had already been offered a similar 17-year deal to that which Donington was sitting on as it strove to secure the funds needed to revamp its facilities and underwrite a radical bond scheme.
"They've got to tidy the whole place up a bit, but I'm optimistic they will accept [the deal]," he told Britain's Times
The major impasse
threatening the race, however, continues to be financial, with Silverstone and Ecclestone still at odds over the cost of the deal. British Racing Drivers' Club president Damon Hill has admitted that he is not expecting any special favours in order to bring the British Grand Prix back to Silverstone, but warns that the British Grand Prix could be lost from the calendar if a resolution to the Donington Park furore is not found soon.
When Donington's bid first appeared to hit the rocks in early summer, Ecclestone boldly claimed that the race would return to Silverstone in 2010, but has since appeared less certain that that would be the case without a satisfactory outcome to talks with the Northamptonshire circuit.
"I want a British Grand Prix, of course, but we are not going to do special rates for Britain," he said, "If they tone] can't make it work then don't do it. If that happens, there won't be a British Grand Prix - simple as that."
With no firm decision taken on the future of the race as yet another deadline for Donington promoter Simon Gillett to find the £135m he needs to redevelop the Leicestershire circuit passed at midnight, Hill has called on Ecclestone to keep faith with Silverstone as a long-term host.
Speaking to the BBC's Radio 5 Live
, the 1996 F1 world champion admitted that Ecclestone had a difficult task balancing the history of the sport against the clamour from countries only just waking up to grand prix racing - but possessing deep pockets - when it came to forming the calendar, but insisted that, in his opinion, it was important to retain a British round on the schedule despite the problems the 2010 race appears to be facing.
"F1 can go anywhere in the world and get a huge amount of money," Hill conceded, "That's what Bernie's wrestling with - but it's not his job to give a discounted job to the UK.