Stewart launches £90m plan to develop Silverstone

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The Independent Online

Sir Jackie Stewart yesterday announced a £90m proposed strategy aimed at safeguarding the future of British motorsport and turning Silverstone into the best circuit in the world.

Stewart said the future of the British Grand Prix and the Formula One industry in this country, worth an estimated £5bn, could be at risk unless the master plan for the Northamptonshire track is completed. The three-times world champion wants the government to match the £45m that has been pledged by the British Racing Drivers' Club, Octagon Motorsports and Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management company.

The money from the BRDC, which owns Silverstone, Octagon, which has a 15-year management lease on the track, and FOM is being spent on an overhaul of the former wartime airfield which should be completed by 2003.

The lay-out of the circuit is being revised by the German track designer Hermann Tilke, responsible for Malaysia's facility at Sepang, which will be designed to improve overtaking and spectator enjoyment.

The plans include the building of a spectacular banked, parabolic curve at Club Corner, over a mile of new track along with a new F1 pit and paddock facility, improved grandstands and measures to ease the chronic traffic problems.

Stewart said he hoped the Government would invest the £45m needed to help pay for the cost of the additional phases, which would ensure the industry in Britain does not go the same way as the shipbuilding or motorcycle industries.

The Scotsman said there was a risk that F1 teams, the majority of whom are based in Britain, could eventually move overseas and join the likes of Toyota, whose F1 effort is centred in Germany.

"I would be very disappointed if the government did not come up with the amount of money required to activate the other phases," he said. "If not, we have plans to look at other opportunities to raise money from the private sector."

Ralf Schumacher is on the brink of extending his contract with BMW-Williams. The German said yesterday that he might sign during this weekend's European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring.

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