Record ticket sales for Silverstone

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The Independent Online

Silverstone has enjoyed record ticket sales for a 24-hour period after yesterday confirming a new long-term deal to host the British Grand Prix.

The Northamptonshire track has seen an unprecedented level of demand for tickets for next year's race, selling just under 6,500, equating to more than £1.2million in revenue.

Managing director Richard Phillips commented: "We have been overwhelmed by the early level of interest for tickets for next year's event.

"We're very fortunate Silverstone and F1 enjoy fantastic support from the fans.

"With two world champions (Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button), a British team and a British Grand Prix secured for the long term, there is a lot to be optimistic about.

"We're committed to delivering a fantastic experience for the fans, offering real value for money, with an array of on- and off-track entertainment.

"With MotoGP and F1 at Silverstone next year, we're looking forward to a busy and exciting year."

Following the signing of a 17-year deal with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, Silverstone now has just seven months to hit the levels of this season for the July 9-11 event.

The race in June attracted a cumulative crowd over the three days of 310,000 - including 120,000 for the race - the highest at the track for 15 years.

Ordinarily tickets for 2010 would have gone on sale the day after the 2009 race, however at the time it was anticipated the grand prix was moving to Donington Park.

But Donington's failure to deliver allowed Silverstone to return to the negotiating table with Ecclestone and sign a lengthy contract.

It means the date of next year's British Grand Prix coincides with the World Cup final, which could have an effect on ticket sales.

However, Phillips does not envisage any problems as he has promised fans of both sports will be catered for.

"I think we'll have the biggest grand prix and World Cup audience of the lot," said Phillips as he plans to erect a giant television screen for the final that follows the race.

"It will be the biggest crowd watching football on TV. It's what we did in 2006, and that's what we're going to do again."

The chances are long of a national double that day, with either Hamilton or Button winning the race and England in the World Cup final.

But with two British world champions in Hamilton and Button at the same team for next season in McLaren, Damon Hill can envisage the flag flying over Silverstone at least on July 11.

"Unfortunately, we can't have two British world champions winning the grand prix at the same time," said Hill, president of the British Racing Drivers' Club.

"But I'm sure there is an excellent chance for one of them, with two top drivers at a top team."

Phillips certainly feels the lure of the British duo will aid the circuit's quest to sell tickets.

"It was a shame we couldn't have put them on sale earlier, but we had to do the right deal (with Ecclestone)," added Phillips.

"We've a good team, a great circuit, great fans, and I'm confident with the two British champions we have now that we can pull this off.

"We're already doing very well with MotoGP sales, and hopefully in a couple of weeks we'll be saying the same about the British Grand Prix."