Subtle pressure on Government over support for British Grand Prix

IN what is being regarded as a subtle prod to Tony Blair's Labour government to offer more support to its home round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the British Grand Prix could be missing from next year's International calendar unless there is an adequate explanation forthcoming for the alleged continued traffic chaos at this event.

It is being rumored this week that a letter has been written by FIA President Max Mosley to Octagon, the promoters of the British Grand Prix, demanding certain specific answers to issues surrounding traffic flow into this year's race. This is accompanied by the strong implication that the race could be omitted from the provisional calendar - to be published in October - if the matter is not addressed satisfactorily in the view of the governing body.

It is being suggested that this is a crude means of getting the Blair government's attention in a bid to get the administration to support Silverstone's 40 million pound facelift which is planned for completion in 2003. The newly appointed Minister for Sport Richard Caborn attended the British Grand Prix, but many people were more interested in the comments of Tory party leadership candidate Kenneth Clarke - currently a director of F1 sponsor British American Tobacco - who quite clearly indicated he did not believe that the government would invest in the Silverstone program. "Governments are mean," he said recently with an obvious touch of irony.

Twice British GP winner David Coulthard rightly sprang to Silverstone's defence. Commenting in this week's issue of AUTOSPORT magazine he said; "I find it extraordinary that certain people continually shoot down a circuit that has reinvested millions of pounds changing the track over the past few years to accommodate the drivers and the FIA's wishes," said the Scot.

"If it is as straightforward as the traffic, then I find it totally unfair on Silverstone. There are other tracks with poor facilities that we go to and we go to, and you never hear anything about them."

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