Stewart in defence of Silverstone

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Sir Jackie Stewart has urged Great Britain to take the threats of Formula One's commercial rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone, over the British Grand Prix seriously.

Stewart has urged the Government and the industry to pull out all the stops to ensure Britain remains on the Formula One calendar. Stewart, the president of the British Racing Drivers' Club which owns Silverstone, said: "British motorsport, its industry and the British Government have to listen to the statement made last weekend by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

"Bernie is right, highlighting the draw of those countries trying to get into the F1 calendar. But we cannot agree with Bernie with regard to his observations on Silverstone because he is one of the partners involved in its rebuilding."

The odds on Silverstone being dropped from the Formula One calendar shortened yesterday when the Nürburgring signed a contract to host a race until at least 2009.

Max Mosley, the president of the FIA, motor racing's governing body, wants the Formula One calendar to be cut by two races to the more traditional 16. Ecclestone has also warned that the sport is increasingly likely to look further afield than Europe.