No government money for British GP – minister

Fri, 9 November 2007, 11:18

Britain’s sports minister has vowed to “do everything we can” to save the grand prix at Silverstone but ruled out direct financial support.

Gerry Sutcliffe visited the Northamptonshire site on Thursday, as the circuit owning British Racing Drivers’ Club advances plans to develop the home of the perennially endangered formula one race.

“We all want to see the British grand prix remain here,” he said at Silverstone, where he was taken around the F1 layout in a Lotus sports car by 1996 world champion and BRDC president Damon Hill.

Sutcliffe MP said in a statement: “I offer my full support to the Master Plan and will work with my colleagues to help with its delivery.”

But to the news agency Reuters, he ruled out direct government financial backing.

“We can’t do that and we’ve not been asked to do that at this stage,” Sutcliffe said.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has long criticised the British circuit for its ageing facilities, casting doubt on the future of the race beyond its 2009 contract.

Hill suggested that the British government’s reluctance to directly help could cost the country the event.

“It may well be that the market has changed whereby formula one can only be afforded around the world by government expenditure, as we have seen a number of times,” he said.

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