As rumoured in the hours before details of the eleventh-hour deal were made public, the British Racing Drivers' Club has inked a 17-year agreement to stage the British Grand Prix at Silverstone from 2010.
A press conference in London confirmed overnight speculation that the BRDC and Bernie Ecclestone had finally agreed terms to keep the British Grand Prix on the F1 schedule in the wake of the proposed move to Donington Park collapsing due a lack of funding.
While talks were ongoing, Ecclestone trotted out the now-familiar threat that Britain could disappear from the F1 map should Silverstone not accede to his demands, but it would appear that the two parties have reached an agreement that sees the historic airfield circuit take on the same length of contract offered to Simon Gillett at Donington. New FIA President Jean Todt is understood to have played a pivotal role in helping to broker a satisfactory compromise between the two parties as the clock ticked down.
Initial details from the press conference do not reveal the financial side of the deal, which Britain's Times
newspaper claims will be better for Silverstone than previously thought, but BRDC president Damon Hill insists that it was important that an agreement was reached.
"It is not easy to enter into a contract of this magnitude and you have to take on a lot of responsibility, but the BRDC wanted this relationship to continue - we were prepared to back the negotiating team with the level of risk satisfactory for the deal to go ahead," the 1996 F1 world champion told reporters, amid suggestions that the deal commands a reduced £12m price tag for 2010, with an annual seven per cent escalator to follow
"The title of Silverstone as home of motorsport has come true. It is a place for all motorsport. Everyone in the BRDC loves motorsport and we are looking forward to the MotoGP as well as the British Grand Prix."
As reported, the deal includes a clause whereby either side could call time after ten years, but the BRDC is delighted to have been given a suitably lengthy deal which will, it insists, allow it to finally progress with the planned redevelopment of the site in a bid to bring it closer to the government-backed, multi-billion dollar venues being built outside of F1's traditional heartland in countries like Abu Dhabi, China, Malaysia and Singapore.
"This long-term contract will enable us to continue with our plans to develop Silverstone into a world class facility, bringing the venue into line with the very best sports facilities in the world for the benefit of all race goers, teams, drivers and fans," Hill continued.
The first phase of redevelopment is expected to focus on a new pit and paddock complex, with the BBC
claiming that work will start as soon as the festive season is over and done with.