Ecclestone buys rights to stage British race

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The Independent Online

The war between Bernie Ecclestone and Silverstone may be over, after the Formula One commercial rights holder yesterday bought, from the American advertising giant, Interpublic, the rights to stage the British Grand Prix. As part of the deal with Ecclestone's Formula One Administration, Interpublic agreed to pay them $93m (£51m).

The race, run at the circuit owned by the British Racing Drivers' Club, has long been one of the few to elude Ecclestone's control and in recent years he has been ferociously critical of the circuit and its facilities. In February he likened it to "an old house that claims to need only a few repairs. Actually it needs major reconstruction. I don't see a future for it".

He was less critical earlier this month in Bahrain, where the lavish facilities surpass all other circuits, and admitted that he would hate Formula One to lose its traditional venues.

Now the future of the British Grand Prix appears to be secure, as Ecclestone has the rights until 2015.

"The BRDC believes it is of paramount importance to the sport and industry in the UK that we retain the British Grand Prix at Silverstone," a cautious BRDC statement said. "We are continuing discussions with our partners, including Formula One Administration, the Interpublic Group and the British Government, and remain committed to playing our part in retaining the Grand Prix.

"In the expectation that Mr Ecclestone wishes to retain the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, we welcome the acquisition of the rights to the event by FOA," the statement went on to say.

Andrew Waller, managing director of Interpublic's Silverstone Motorsport subsidiary, said: "What happens next for Silverstone is potentially very positive. The rights are in very safe hands with Bernie."