Silverstone must meet December deadline

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The Independent Online

The British Grand Prix, as expected, received a stay of execution when it was included on the draft calendar for the 2005 Formula One season issued by the FIA yesterday.

The British Grand Prix, as expected, received a stay of execution when it was included on the draft calendar for the 2005 Formula One season issued by the FIA yesterday. Together with the San Marino and French races, however, it remains provisional pending solution of contractual issues.

The British Racing Drivers' Club, the owner of Silverstone circuit, has until 10 December to agree terms with Bernie Ecclestone, the holder of the commercial rights to Formula One. That is when the FIA world council meets to ratify the calendar. However, as the Canadian and French Grands Prix demonstrated this season, even that deadline may be flexible, with both being saved at the 11th hour.

Ecclestone and the BRDC have been arguing for months over the cost of the race, and the terms of a contract. Ecclestone wants a one-year deal with an option for the next six years; the BRDC wants a two-year deal and then to negotiate a new package once the Concorde Agreement which governs the sport runs out at the end of 2007.

Despite ambitious claims last week to have saved the British Grand Prix, any hope the Nigel Mansell-backed Brand Synergy group had of taking control of the race appears to have been ended by yesterday's announcement.

FORMULA ONE 2005 DRAFT CALENDAR: 6 March, Australia (Melbourne); 20 March, Malaysia (Sepang); 3 April, Bahrain (Manama); 17 April*, France (Magny-Cours); 24 April**, San Marino (Imola); 8 May, Spain (Barcelona); 22 May, Monaco; To be confirmed, Europe (Nürburgring); 12 June, Canada (Montreal); Tbc, United States (Indianapolis); 3 July*, Great Britain (Silverstone); 17 July, Germany (Hockenheim); 31 July, Hungary (Hungaroring); 21 August, Turkey (Istanbul); 4 September, Italy (Monza); 11 September, Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps); 25 September, Brazil (Interlagos); 9 October, Japan (Suzuka); Tbc, China (Shanghai).

*Contract under discussion. **Subject to compliance with contract. The dates for the European, US and Chinese GPs must be confirmed by 10 December.

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