Cost-cutting puts Silverstone back on the calendar

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The British Grand Prix looks set to be included on the 2005 calendar after nine teams agreed to a voluntary series of cost-cutting measures with Bernie Ecclestone. Ferrari was the only team absent from the meeting.

The British Grand Prix looks set to be included on the 2005 calendar after nine teams agreed to a voluntary series of cost-cutting measures with Bernie Ecclestone. Ferrari was the only team absent from the meeting.

In Brazil a fortnight ago Williams-BMW, McLaren-Mercedes, BAR-Honda, Renault, Sauber-Petronas, Jaguar, Jordan-Ford, Toyota and Minardi-Cosworth agreed to investigate means of cutting costs, after an initiative from Ecclestone, Formula One's commercial rights holder. Ferrari refused to agree to the proposals, which sought to include the French and British races on the current 2005 calendar as the 18th and 19th races.

Without unanimous agreement there can be no change to the rules. But yesterday the nine teams agreed a voluntary 50 per cent cut in testing, regardless of what Ferrari do.

"If they want to win all the races and kill the sport just because they do twice as much testing, let them," one team principal said. "All they will get is a hollow victory, and the world will recognise that."

The team principals also agreed to pursue a single tyre supply and plan to take this to the Formula One Commission to vote through for 2006. Ferrari are opposed to this happening for 2005 because they enjoy a special relationship with Bridgestone, but would not be able to stop this happening for the year after.

The commercial niceties were also ironed out with Ecclestone for the calendar to include France and Britain. This requires rubber-stamping by the world governing body, the FIA, which will almost certainly happen, and Ferrari will also have to agree. They are unlikely to want to be seen as the team that killed two of the sport's oldest established races.

Ecclestone said: "We haven't got a contract with Silverstone yet but I would be shattered and disappointed if we didn't get a deal."

Ron Dennis, the McLaren chairman, added: "We believe an agreement was reached today which removes any obvious obstruction for the French and British grands prix taking place."

A Ferrari spokesman said last night that there would be no comment until the proposals had been studied.

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