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Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit faces uncertain Future

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Silverstone may have staged its most successful British Grand Prix in ages, and tickets are already selling fast for the 2008 event.

But a serious question mark still hangs over the future of Formula One in the UK, according to the sport's supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

Although he was delighted with the capacity 85,000 race day crowd  - many, no doubt, attracted by the heroics of world championship leader Lewis Hamilton - Ecclestone says the event's place on the calendar remains uncertain beyond 2009. More so, perhaps, as well financed new rounds in Valencia, Singapore and Abu Dhabi need adding to an already very crowded schedule.

Replying to the suggestion that Hamilton's popularity had made the British race more secure, Ecclestone insisted that it had not changed anything at all.

'We have a contract that's been in place for five years; they've known for five years exactly what has to happen,' he told us. 'By mid-2008, we must have the new buildings and everything put in place. I hope they've had a wake-up call and they do something.'

Races in France, Italy and Germany have already bitten the Ecclestone bullet, and time may be running out if his demands are to be met. However, Silverstone boss Richard Phillips is confident the redevelopment Master Plan - recently unveiled by the circuit's owner, the British Racing Drivers Club - will not only satisfy F1 bosses, but also provide top-class facilities.

'We have the best and most passionate fans in the world, and we want to give them a circuit that will compete with other F1 tracks around the globe,' said Phillips, who admitted to being bowled over by the Hamilton-mania that exploded over the British Grand Prix weekend.

'The atmosphere after qualifying was phenomenal. I've never seen anything like it. We had more fans at Silverstone on Saturday than we had on race day last year - it was electric.

'The noise and roar as the grandstands erupted when Lewis qualified on pole is something that will stay with me for a long time,' he grinned. 'It was an amazing event. And I am sure there is more to come in future years.'

Then again, unless Mr Ecclestone's demands are met in full within the next 24 months, Hamilton-mania could turn out to be a rather short-lived phenomenon at Silverstone.

 

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Octane Magazine

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