Motor racing: New plan of campaign in fight for Silverstone

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The Independent Online

The British Formula One Grand Prix promoters have changed the emphasis of their "masterplan" for Silverstone in the face of threats to remove the race from the 2002 world championship calendar.

Octagon Motorsports, which is running the event, said in a statement yesterday that "further significant improvements are planned to provide the best possible level of accessibility at Silverstone" for fans attending the race, which is scheduled for 7 July.

"The joint Masterplan between Octagon Motorsports, the British Racing Drivers' Club [the circuit owners] and [the Formula One impresario] Bernie Ecclestone... has been revised to allow greater emphasis on both access and parking, as well as providing additional facilities for the public," Octagon said. "Works to be completed ahead of the 2002 British Grand Prix will incur costs of £10.6m and will complete Phase 1 of the Masterplan."

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) world motor sports council meets in Monaco on Friday, when the fate of the grand prix will be discussed. The race has been listed as provisional pending an enquiry into the traffic problems that have plagued the Northamptonshire circuit for decades.

There have been suggestions that the FIA might remove the 2002 race from the calendar and make it a non-championship event instead. "We have always placed emphasis on improving facilities for public access to Silverstone," said Rob Bain, the chief executive of Octagon Motorsports, which has the rights to host the race for 15 years.

An inquest in Melbourne into the death of a marshal at this year's Australian Grand Prix has been told that the safety barriers at the city's Albert Park circuit were too low. The marshal died of a ruptured heart after being hit by a wheel which flew through a narrow access gap in the track-side safety barrier following a collision between two cars at the Australian Grand Prix in March.

Although the tyre did not go over the fence, the safety engineer Mark Dohrmann told the inquest that the 2.5-metre high barriers should be doubled to five metres. The FIA does not believe such a change is necessary.

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