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MARCH 22, 2007

The BRDC makes a move

With new projects for Formula 1 races coming out of the woodwork all over Asia and the Middle East, the remaining European races are beginning to get edgy and in recent days there have been stories about plans to revive the French Grand Prix at Disneyland Paris and finally Britain has reacted with the news that the British Racing Drivers' Club is moving forward on plans to keep Silverstone on the F1 calendar. The club has been presenting its plans to the local and regional development agencies and has received backing from Britain's Sports Minister Richard Caborn.

The current contract runs out after the race in 2009 and Silverstone has committed to upgrading the track after that. If this does not happen there will not be another contract unless Bernie Ecclestone takes over the circuit (as happened recently in Turkey) or finds another venue (such as Donington Park). The plan being put forward by the BRDC includes new grandstands and pit and paddock facilities, a science park, a testing centre for manufacturers, a hotel and conference centre and some residential development.

With a new British star rising in Lewis Hamilton, Silverstone knows that if it can find the money to invest in grandstands and facilities it has a much better chance to make the race profitable but needs help to minimise overheads. The club will no doubt be hoping that the local authorities will waive rates payments on new grandstands. The more seats that Silverstone can build the more money that it can make. Access now seems to be sorted out and so the aim is to increase the capacity and thus the earning potential. In addition the track is looking for new ways to generate income between races.

In order to move ahead Silverstone must negotiate deals with the local authorities to change certain zoning rules. If this fails then the track and the British GP is in danger.