President of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Damon Hill has admitted that faced with losing the British Grand Prix from the F1 calendar has led the club, who own the circuit, to give serious consideration to alternating the race with the French Grand Prix.
“I think we should be open to all sorts of plans,” Hill said to reporters yesterday. “I think w would feel that would be a last resort because we would like to keep Britain in the frame every year. It’s had a presence in the championship since 1950 so we want to keep that going. I think you could argue that would be the thin end of wedge – doing it every year might become every third year.”
Silverstone is facing massive pressure – not only does Bernie Ecclestone think that alternating years is the way forward, but he also wants the circuit to invest heavily ensure that the facilities are improved and expanded. The BRDC does not have this sort of money for investment and other nations, backed by their government, are eager to step into the void left by the British Grand Prix.
Hill is aware that government funds to save the British Grand Prix will probably not be forthcoming – not when the sport is deemed ‘elitist’, and there are other priorities such as the NHS which should take precedence.
“I would not feel comfortable about insisting that this country should pay for a Grand Prix,” Hill stated. “I can understand that there are many people ahead in the queue for our tax money. A sporting even can carry an enormous amount of prestige and that has a value to the country. If we are able to sell Great Britain through Grand Prix racing then maybe government funding is right. I think the British Grand Prix does have a value and it will pay for itself.”
Silverston’s current contract runs out after 2009. “We are going to be negotiating what happens beyond 2009,” Hill said. “But I would say the race is hanging in the balance.”