x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Silverstone's F1 coup

Damon Hill expects the British Grand Prix to go from strength to strength after the announcement of a new 17-year deal with FOM.

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany is likely to defend his Grand Prix title at the Silverstone racetrack, England next year.
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany is likely to defend his Grand Prix title at the Silverstone racetrack, England next year.

Damon Hill expects the British Grand Prix to go from strength to strength after it was confirmed yesterday that the race had been secured at Silverstone with a new deal with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone. The track owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), confirmed a 17-year deal from next year, including a break clause after 10 years, had been signed that ensures the survival of the race.

"It is not easy to enter into a contract of this magnitude and you have to take on a lot of responsibility, but the BRDC wanted this relationship to continue," said Hill, the president of BRDC and a former world champion. "The title of Silverstone as home of motor sport has come true. It is a place for all motor sport." Silverstone, a former World War Two airfield, hosted the first championship Grand Prix in 1950 but appeared to have lost out after Ecclestone agreed to a deal with Donington Park from next year.

That plan fell apart when Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd, now in administration, failed to raise the money needed to develop the facilities. Next year's British race is due to be held on July 11, and is part of a 19-race calendar that will be announced by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) on Friday. Meanwhile, the world champion Jenson Button won International Driver of the Year at the Autosport Awards in London on Sunday.

The BP Ford Abu Dhabi driver Mikko Hirvonen won Inter-national Rally Driver of the Year for his battling run to finish second in the World Rally Championship. gcaygill@thenational.ae