Formula 1 commercial manager Bernie Ecclestone has warned Silverstone that it now has just a few weeks to sort out a contract for the British Grand Prix if the event is not to be dropped from the calendar.
While discussions between Ecclestone and Silverstone have been going on for several weeks, there has been no breakthrough as the financial terms that Ecclestone wants are in excess of what the track is willing to pay. Now, Ecclestone has claimed that if the matter is not resolved before the next meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Monaco on Dec. 11, then the British GP would likely slip off the schedule.
"The World Council will meet and we will just pull it off – we will have to," Ecclestone told Britain's The Times newspaper. "We'll have no other choice, if we don't have a contract. We shouldn't have anything on the calendar unless we have a contract in place.
"They are close and they know they are close. It's not the terms and conditions so much as whether the investors are prepared to bankroll them and take the risk."
Ecclestone reiterated his stance that Silverstone would not be given favorable treatment simply because of the history of the British GP. "Of course we want a British Grand Prix," he said. "I've been spending an awful lot of time trying to make sure it does happen, but there is no chance of an exceptional contract for Silverstone. Why should there be?"
British Racing Drivers' Club president Damon Hill told The Times that he thought the two sides were close to a deal – but it was the long-term considerations that were causing hesitation.
"The club does not want to sign up for something that puts it in peril," said Hill. "Bernie doesn't care whether you lose your shirt or not – he wants to deal with someone who can take a chance. We saw what happened with Donington, and so there is a point at which it becomes a fine line between signing a contract or not."