Sir Jackie Stewart has warned the UK that Bernie Ecclestone's latest attack on Silverstone should not be accepted as just another diatribe from the man in charge of Formula One.

Stewart, president of the British Racing Drivers' Club [BRDC] which is based at Silverstone, claimed that the growing economic power of developing nations, allied to various EU legislation, posed a legitimate threat to racing both in Europe and, more specifically, Britain. Imola has already been told that it will disappear from the Formula One calendar next season, and Ecclestone said during the same announcement that Silverstone represented a 'run-down old house'.

Stewart confirmed that the claims of the potential new venues was credible, but said that he was again at odds with Ecclestone over the state of the UK's premier circuit.

"British motorsport, the industry and the British government have to listen to the statement made last weekend by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone," Stewart said in a prepared message on behalf of the BRDC, "Bernie is right [to be] highlighting the massive financial power and draw of those countries trying to get in to the F1 calendar.

"However, we cannot agree with Bernie with regard to his observations on Silverstone, as he is one of the partners involved in the rebuilding of Silverstone to retain the British Grand Prix.

"The BRDC, IPG [Interpublic Group] and FOM [Ecclestone' s Formula One Management company] have been responsible for the creation and financing of the 'master plan' to redevelop considerable areas of Silverstone in order to retain the British Grand Prix. In addition to the improvements in roads, car parking, police traffic control centre and public amenities in recent years, we are now preparing to rebuild the entire paddock and pit complex, a new media centre and race control building. The BRDC has committed its monies to this and are currently waiting for IPG and FOM to confirm in writing, their agreement.

"Government has also committed their support on the basis of all four parties - IPG, FOM, the BRDC and Her Majesty's Government (through the East Midlands Development Agency) - making contributions to retain the British Grand Prix through at least 2015.

"The BRDC has made it clear on many occasions that, as owners of Silverstone, we are prepared to make significant proportionate financial contributions beyond the ?15million already committed to the 'master plan' to retain the grand prix in the UK. We offered an additional ?15million to further assist in the retention of the grand prix to 2015.

"Although the BRDC is working successfully with the East Midlands Development Agency on projects to assist the motorsport industry, we still await commitments from IPG, FOM, and HMG directly related to the retention of the grand prix."

Turkey, India and South Korea have all staked a claim to join the F1 schedule from 2005 onwards.

 

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