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Hill cagey as time runs out for Donington

BRITISH Racing Drivers&rsquo; Club president Damon Hill insists it will not be held to ransom in its attempt to host the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.<br /><br />Donington Park officially dropped out of the running yesterday when the final deadline for them to show they had the necessary funding in place passed.<br /><br />That leaves Silverstone, which is owned by the BRDC and has hosted the British date in the Formula One calendar for more than 20 years, as the clear favourite to step in.<br /><br />But terms are far from being agreed with F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone, causing Hill to temper his optimism with a measure of caution.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m confident a deal can be worked out. The contract can be of any combination of years, but it has to be affordable,&rdquo; Hill said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a huge desire to get the deal done, but we&rsquo;re not prepared to put Silverstone at risk financially.&rdquo;<br /><br />Britain could be struck off the calendar if the BRDC fails to clinch a deal to keep the race at Silverstone. The iconic tracks at Monza and Monte Carlo are given discounted rates but Ecclestone has warned Silverstone will not be given similar preferential treatment. &ldquo;I want a British Grand Prix,&rdquo; he said last week. &ldquo;But we are not going to do special rates for Britain.&rdquo;<br /><br />Donington finally ran out of time to raise the &pound;135m it needed to redevelop the circuit yesterday at noon. Track chiefs appeared to throw in the towel on Friday when they admitted a bond scheme launched earlier this month in a late bid to generate the cash had failed.<br /><br />In June Donington chief executive Simon Gillett pulled off something of a coup when he secured the rights to host the British Grand Prix on a 17-year contract, starting next year. But a series of legal and planning problems caused missed deadlines and, ultimately, the project&rsquo;s failure.