Britain could be without a grand prix in 2010 if Donington Park is not up to scratch in time, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone said today.
"If the work at Donington is not finished in time, we would be happy to skip a year," he told the Times newspaper.
"I don't want to lose the British Grand Prix, that's the last thing we want to do, but we aren't going to Silverstone for sure."
The paper said Ecclestone described a meeting with Simon Gillett, chief executive of circuit operators Donington Park Ventures, in London as "very good".
Donington is due to take over from Silverstone in 2010 but Gillett is facing legal proceedings from Donington's owners, who are seeking £2.47m in rent arrears and forfeiture of the lease.
The action has renewed concern about the likelihood of the circuit, which requires considerable renovation, being in a position to host the race.
Ecclestone said he was "heartened and confident" about Gillett's prospects.
"I think they are getting their act together, I think they are getting things up and running," he said. "The debt will be sorted out. It's not a problem and raising money from the banks is looking positive."
Britain hosted the first Formula One championship race at Silverstone in 1950 and a majority of the 10 current teams are based in the country. Donington last hosted the 1993 European Grand Prix.