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Hill still hopes British GP can be saved

Damon Hill believes it is still possible that a deal can be agreed with Formula One rights holder Bernie Ecclestone to preserve the future of the British Grand Prix.

india Updated: Oct 27, 2009 17:38 IST

Damon Hill believes it is still possible that a deal can be agreed with Formula One rights holder Bernie Ecclestone to preserve the future of the British Grand Prix.

Plans for Donington Park to take over from Silverstone, host of the last 23 British Grand Prix, appeared to collapse after track operators issued a statement Friday that a bond issue attempt to raise 135 million pounds (147 million euros) for circuit modernisation had proved unsuccessful.

Technically, Donington still has until midnight local time Tuesday to raise the reqiuired finance but Ecclestone had said their bid is "over".

Although himself an Englishman, Ecclestone is no fan of the Silverstone circuit, like Donington situated in the English Midlands, and has made it clear that just because the British Grand Prix is one of Formula One's oldest races it is not guaranteed an ongoing place in the sport's calendar.

There are also reports that Silverstone chiefs are unhappy with the financial terms of the deal being offered by Ecclestone.

However, former world champion Hill, the president of Silverstone's owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club, told Tuesday's Guardian: "I am hopeful something can be resolved.

"There is a good chance we can sort something out soon."

But Hill said he understood Ecclestone could make more money by taking the race elsewhere. "He can get a value globally that is far in excess of what he can get for the UK.

"We can respect that it is a difficult position for him to be in. He has to answer to his shareholders.

"Other countries are bound to pay a premium, but their revenue streams are more open than they are to a promoter in the UK," he added.

"We feel the best thing to do is to designate a venue with a long enough term plan that you can tailor your investments," explained Hill, whose later father Graham was also a Formula One world champion.

"There are options on the table. There are discussions taking place and I'm hopeful something can be sorted out."