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APRIL 20, 2004

Ecclestone's dream comes true - and the British GP is saved

Bernie Ecclestone and Formula One Administration have regained control of the rights to the British Grand Prix from the Interpublic Group - and been paid $93m by Interpublic, which was keen to get out of its motor racing commitments. The deal comes into effect after the 2004 race in July. This means that the British GP does not currently have a promoter for 2005 and beyond but in all likelihood the role will be taken on by Ecclestone himself and the $93m will be used to do upgrading work at the track.

Interpublic has a further commitment to the British Racing Drivers' Club under the terms of its lease of Silverstone, which runs until 2007. According to Interpublic this will cost it something in the region of $62m.

Interpublic chief executive David Bell said that the move was necessary.

"I have made it clear that it is inappropriate for us to be involved in owning or operating venue-based motor sports businesses. We are pleased to have moved closer to completing our exit from the motor sports business."

The BRDC says it is continuing its negotiations to ensure the long-term future of the race.

"The BRDC believes it is of paramount importance to the sport and industry in the UK that we retain the British Grand Prix at Silverstone," the BRDC said in a statement. "We are continuing discussions with our partners, including Formula One Administration, the Interpublic Group and the British Government, and remain committed to playing our part in retaining the Grand Prix. In the expectation that Mr. Ecclestone wishes to retain the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, we welcome the acquisition of the rights to the event by FOA. We look forward to hearing Mr. Ecclestone's plans for the future success and stability of the British Grand Prix."

With Ecclestone as the promoter of the event it is virtually guaranteed that the British GP now has a long term future although it may be that the circuit will have to miss a year while it is being remodelled.