The British Racing Drivers' Club is expected to confirm today that it has secured the future of the British Grand Prix - and on improved terms - but confusion still reigns over the exact length of the deal agreed with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
Various British newspapers greeted the dawn today [Monday] by pre-empting an expected announcement from Silverstone, with the Times
trumpeting the most optimistic details. The title's website claims that the 17-year deal previously offered to Donington Park will now be taken up by Silverstone, but at a reduced charge after Ecclestone agreed 'to forego fees amounting to £60m'.
Perhaps crucially, the report also claims that the deal contains a five per cent annual escalator to the cost of hosting, rather than the seven per cent initially demanded by Ecclestone, who referred to the drawn-out negotiations as 'a long and tiring nonsense'. The 17-year deal is rumoured to be worth £310m, although there is a clause in the contract that would enable either side to end it after ten years.
The rival Guardian
newspaper, however, insists that the agreed deal is for five years only - with the seven per cent escalator still in place. That report puts the cost of hosting next year's race - provisionally scheduled for 11 July - at £14m, although the Times
believes the price to be closer to £12m. A third broadsheet, the Daily Telegraph
did not commit itself to details of either cost or length of deal, but quoted current world champion Jenson Button as saying the agreement was 'fantastic - not just for British fans, but the sport as a whole'.
BRDC president Damon Hill is expected to head a press conference to reveal the exact terms of the deal later today, two days before the 2010 calendar is due to be finalised by the FIA and Ecclestone's FOM. The 19 race dates are due to be revealed to the public on Friday, with the British GP unlikely to move from a slot that places it in direct opposition to football's World Cup final in South Africa.
Silverstone is expected to use the return of the race as the basis for an extensive overhaul of the former airfield site, beginning with further alterations to the historic layout that will see the start-line moved to the opposite side of the circuit, alongside a new pit and paddock complex, and the lap open on the section of track previously planned for the arrival of Moto GP in 2010.