Motor racing: Brands lands the British Grand Prix

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THE BRITISH Grand Prix looks certain to be switched from Silverstone to Brands Hatch in 2002. Details of the move are due to be disclosed in Monaco and at the Kent circuit today.

Brands last hosted a Formula One event in 1986 and since then the race has been held at Silverstone. However, a recent power struggle appears to have resulted in victory for Brands' owner Nicola Foulston.

Silverstone have been under pressure to improve facilities and, despite considerable investment in recent seasons, it has not been able to keep pace with developments at other circuits.

Formula One's impresario, Bernie Ecclestone, has apparently lost patience with Silverstone and sanctioned Brands' plan for a pounds 18m revamp.

Foulston was prepared to take over Silverstone, such was her determination to win the British Grand Prix but it seems resistance from Silverstone's owners, the British Racing Drivers Club, has convinced Ecclestone the race should go to Brands.

Silverstone, which hosted the inaugural world championship race in 1950, has never been one of the more popular circuits. Its critics condemn it as flat and featureless, and even radical changes to the layout and contours failed to earn it popular acclaim.

Brands is blessed with a natural amphitheatre but Formula One has moved on a pace since that last race, in 1986 won by Nigel Mansell, and a huge construction operation will be required to bring it in line with current Formula One requirements.

Ecclestone has placed himself in a no-lose situation throughout the negotiations and Britain can console itself with long term security for its Grand Prix. Ecclestone has warned all circuit organisations that no Grand Prix venue is sacrosanct.

There is huge demand for races in Asia and Malaysia joins the calendar this season. Next year sees the return of the United States Grand Prix.

Restrictions on tobacco advertising have also put the squeeze on European venues and Brands' initiative will ensure the British Grand Prix survives the near future.

Foulston and Ecclestone will formally announce the venture today and render Silverstone's recent reorganisation plan redundant. Brands will presumably unveil a state of the art plan and meet Ecclestone's every demand.

Schumacher in control in Monaco, page 30