British Grand Prix saved in 310m deal

MOTORSPORT chief Damon Hill admits a deal to save the British Grand Prix was only finally struck after weeks of hard bargaining.<br /><br />Silverstone officials confirmed yesterday that the oldest race on the Formula One calendar would remain at the circuit for another 17 years.<br /><br />The announcement banished fears that a British date could be lost from the schedule altogether, following the collapse of a similar deal to hold the race at Donington.<br /><br />But Hill, president of the British Racing Drivers Club, which owns Silverstone, said F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone had proven a tough nut to crack.<br /><br />&ldquo;Bernie is very satisfied this is finally concluded and that Silverstone has fulfilled his requests &ndash; I won&rsquo;t call them demands,&rdquo; said former world champion Hill.<br /><br />&ldquo;He wants the best for his product and, if you look at it like that, you can understand why he wanted us to make a commitment. He is absolutely entitled to go for the best price he can get, and he can get a better price elsewhere, so we were told.<br /><br />&ldquo;But, without going into the absolute detail, Silverstone is getting a chance to show what it can do. The team have been negotiating, and there are clearly fine margins we are working on, so small differences make big differences over a 17-year contract.&rdquo;<br /><br />Silverstone is thought to have agreed to pay &pound;12m to host the race in 2010, with a five per cent increase in the fee year-on-year.&nbsp; And while that means the Northamptonshire circuit spending around &pound;310m over the 17 years, it is still understood to represent a saving of &pound;60m. It is thought Ecclestone initially asked for a seven per cent fee increase year-on-year.<br /><br />Ecclestone said: &ldquo;This will ensure Britain will remain on the Formula One calendar for many years to come, which is something I have personally always wanted to see happen.&rdquo;<br />