Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips has revealed that he is 'pretty convinced' the British Grand Prix will be held at the celebrated 'Home of British Motor Racing' once again in 2010 – as a deal to save the future of one of the sport's most historic races nears.
Having offered the contract to traditional F1 host Silverstone after Donington Park perhaps predictably proved unable to fulfil its side of the original 17-year agreement, Formula One Management (FOM) commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone has since reached a situation of apparent stalemate with the Northants circuit's owners the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) over his exacting financial demands.
The deal on offer is understood to come with a flat race-hosting fee of £12 million, increasing at seven per cent per annum – and the BRDC has been adamant from the outset that it cannot afford such a sum, lest it risk going down the same route as Simon Gillett's Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd (DVLL) company, which last week went into administration.
Ecclestone has warned that if there is no signature on the document by 9 December, when the F1 Commission meets in Paris to rubber-stamp next year's calendar, then there will be no British Grand Prix in 2010 – but Phillips is confident it will not ultimately come to that, and admits that preparations to stage next season's race have been ongoing for some time.
“I don't think there are any real stumbling blocks,” he told BBC Radio Northampton
. “We're going through the last details of the deal. There is a lot of detail to go through, so if you make a mistake, there's a long time to repent. You can come to high-level agreements quickly, but the devil is in the detail. We're very, very close.
“We certainly would like the contract to be for more than ten years – that's the minimum. We always had faith that the grand prix would return. We've been planning for more than a year; we'll finish the track works in March and start on the new pits ready for 2011. I'm pretty convinced that it will be run at Silverstone next year.”
Silverstone has welcomed F1 on 43 occasions out of 60 since the official inception of the world championship all the way back in 1950, and annually since 1987. It is one of only four remaining tracks still in F1 use today to have featured on the schedule during the inaugural season 59 years ago, alongside Monaco, Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.