Stewart's plea for help

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The Independent Online

Sir Jackie Stewart has again called on the Government to intervene in order to help release funds to secure the future of the British Grand Prix. There has been speculation that the race could be moved from Britain because of the state of the Silverstone circuit.

Stewart, the three times Formula One world champion, was in dispute with Max Mosley, the president of the sport's world governing body, the FIA, in the run-up to this year's event, after Mosley branded Silverstone a "slum" and said it was one of the world's worst circuits, comments echoed by Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One's commercial rights holder.

Around £40m is needed for a new pits area and paddock as well as improvements to other facilities at the Northamptonshire track, which came under renewed scrutiny this year when a spectator breached security to run down Hangar Straight during last month's British Grand Prix.

A package has been put forward by the FIA which would mean that the British Racing Drivers' Club, which owns Silverstone, would not have to fund all the costs of improvements if it cuts the rent charged for the circuit. Brands Hatch Circuits Limited, who own the rights to the race, would meet the costs instead.

Stewart, the president of the BRDC, claims the organisation is prepared to reduce the rent, which starts at £5m and will rise to £8m over the next few years. However, Mosley is now suggesting that for the next couple of years the BRDC should receive no rent at all.

Stewart said the BRDC were prepared to do all they could to save the race, which brings in around £32m each year to the local economy, but wants the Government to intervene.

"I think the British Grand Prix will be safe, but it will not be safe if we don't do anything," he said. "We have got to invest in the facilities at Silverstone. The problem is that there is no money at the present time from the landowners, which is the British Racing Drivers' Club.

"I think the whole essence of Government action is to get all four parties to deliver so that the accumulated amount of money allows us to do the things that are required.

"The British Racing Drivers' Club don't get money from the grand prix because they lease the circuit for 365 days a year to the Brands Hatch Circuits Limited.

"The money goes into, very largely, Mr Ecclestone's companies, so there has been no revenue coming in to allow redevelopment of the area that everybody is talking about."