OCTOBER 20, 2004
Bernie puts on the pressure
Bernie Ecclestone says the British Grand Prix is dead - but we will have to wait and see if that is actually a reality. Cancelling the British Grand Prix would be a major step for Ecclestone as he is sure to upset the Formula 1 teams and so even if he does have a replacement race they may not wish to take part - and he cannot force them. Worse still, they might decided to run a race at Silverstone without him, which would be an alarming precedent for his organization.
Ecclestone is probably just posturing because he knows the trouble that will be stirred up by cancelling the British GP and while there may be other offers out there for a few years time there is nothing obvious at the moment.
Ecclestone continues to blame Silverstone for refusing to agree to his terms, being apparently unwilling to accept that the track cannot afford to pay him and will not risk its long-term future gambling on his demands. The British government will not help because of the relationship between Ecclestone and Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"What could I do?" Ecclestone said. "I have got an offer from another country who are looking to build a lovely venue and invest a lot of money in Formula 1 and they will pay the going rate. I have to give them a year's notice to go ahead. If I miss that because I am still messing about with the BRDC, I would be keeping out a country that desperately wants to be in the Formula 1 World Championship."
The reaction to the news is likely to be interesting with the British government perhaps deciding that it is time to point out to all and sundry that from July 31 2005 there can be no TV coverage of F1 if there are tobacco logos, unless team bosses and anyone who helps to transmit the signal and is based in Britain is willing face the threat of arrest.
If Bernie is willing to play hard ball, it may be that the British government will follow suit. After all, without the Grand Prix, the government has nothing to lose.
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