Yesterday's confirmation that the British Grand Prix would take place, and on the 4 July rather than a mid-July weekend, has added the Silverstone race as a focal point to an already crowded sporting weekend.

While the quintessentially British game of cricket sees England taking on the visiting New Zealanders the same day, sports fans are more likely to be torn between going to Silverstone or watching either the Wimbledon men's tennis final or the climax of the European football championships, which are both also scheduled to take place.

Although all four events could be televised live, it remains to be seen whether the grand prix or the football takes precedence, particularly in the former's host country, while attendance figures could also be hit at both the GP and the cricket, particularly if the Silverstone pricing structure remains as unfriendly as it has in recent seasons.

A small crowd at Silverstone could easily lead to another barrage of criticism from the sport's powers-that-be, although the circuit has apparently done enough to see of this year's threat of expulsion from the calendar. The mid-August deadline for the presentation of an action plan to upgrade the Northamptonshire venue has long passed, and both the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone appear to have been sufficiently placated to include the circuit on a 17-race calendar that boasts two new venues and the return of an old favourite.

Although Canada is missing - the 2004 victim of tobacco advertising restrictions - Spa-Francorchamps returns from its own similar exile, and new races in China and Bahrain both appear certain to take place, pending approval of their soon-to-be completed facilities. The only other doubt hangs over the French GP at Magny-Cours as the circuit and promoters have yet to finalise a contract with the FOM.

 

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