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DECEMBER 5, 2001

British GP could lose championship status

YET again the British Grand Prix at Silverstone could be under threat in the wake of renewed speculation that the sport's governing body is poised to drop the race from the 2002 world championship calendar.

It is believed that FIA president Max Mosley does not feel that the promoters of the British race, Octagon motorsport, have made sufficient progress in reorganizing Silverstone's long standing access problems.

"The matter will be discussed by the world motorsport council on 14 December," said FIA spokesman Francesco Longanesi. "We can neither confirm nor deny this speculation." The world motorsport council will also consider a confidential report from the Motor Sports association, Britain's national club, into traffic flow issues surrounding the British GP.

Meanwhile, for Octagon motorsport, who last year committed to a 15 year deal to lease Silverstone from its owners the British Racing Drivers' Club, the removal of the British grand prix from the championship calendar could have potentially disastrous commercial implications for the future development of the track.

"I would hope that the FIA world council would have the wisdom and foresight not to undermine the future of the British grand prix at a time when there is a huge commitment and will to transform Silverstone into a world class venue," said Sir Jackie Stewart, president of the BRDC.

"It would be particularly disappointing at a time when we are trying to attract government support for the race which showcases the motorsport industry in this country which generates over 125,000 full and part-time jobs."

An Octagon spokesperson added; "The story has no identifiable source and is just speculation. It would be incorrect to interfere with the democratic process of the FIA. We regard it as pure speculation at the moment." speculation."

It is also being suggested that another race might be added to the calendar at the Paul Ricard circuit, near Bandol, in southern France. This was purchased by Ecclestone's group of companies last year and been subject to a $90m program of upgrading.