Grand Prix to leave Silverstone

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The Independent Online

The British Grand Prix has been saved - but its new home is to be Donington Park from 2010 and not Silverstone.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone today dropped his bombshell at the Northamptonshire circuit that will now stage its final race next year after being a permanent fixture since 1987.

Ecclestone, president of Formula One Management, said: "Finally the uncertainty is over. A contract has been signed with Donington Park and the future of the British Grand Prix is now secure."

In Pictures: The end of Silverstone

The news will come as a bitter blow for the British Racing Drivers' Club, who own Silverstone as they have long been in detailed talks with Ecclestone with regard a new deal.

Ecclestone has continually expressed unhappiness at the facilities at the track, which in many people's eyes is far from the worst on the calendar.

But the 77-year-old has made it plain over the years the circuit was in need of drastic improvement, otherwise it would be axed.

Earlier this year Silverstone's owners finally acquired planning permission to build a new £30million pit and paddock complex that would be the first phase of a multi-million redevelopment.

However, it is clear Ecclestone's patience has clearly run out, and after recently confirming he was in discussions with Donington Park, the East Midlands venue has now won the day with a 10-year agreement.

"We wanted a world class venue for Formula One in Britain, something the teams and British F1 fans could be proud of," added Ecclestone.

"The major development plans for Donington will give us exactly that. A venue that will put British motor sport back on the map.

"I am sorry we could not have helped Silverstone to raise the money to carry out the circuit improvements and run Formula One."

Ecclestone then had a dig at the British Government for not dipping their hands into their pocket and helping out Silverstone.

"I believe the government should have supported them, which would have cost probably less than 0.002 per cent of the government's commitment for the Olympic Games," remarked Ecclestone.