Silverstone deadline December 9: Ecclestone

LONDON: Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone told the BBC on Sunday that a deal must be done by December 9 if there is to be a British Grand Prix next season.

Initially, race organisers had planned to switch the race from Silverstone to Donington but that scheme has collapsed, along with talks to stay at Silverstone.

“If there’s no contract in place there won’t be a British Grand Prix,” said Ecclestone, Formula One’s chief executive.

Asked how long the issue could be kept on the back burner he added: “Not too long.”

“They had a contract in place that they could have signed if they’d wanted to but they haven’t. At the moment there is no British Grand Prix.

“I think December 9 is when the Formula 1 commission meet so that’s when it will be taken off the calendar.”

Ecclestone also expressed surprise at world champion Jenson Button’s switch to McLaren, where he will race alongside Lewis Hamilton next season.

“He (Button) obviously knows what he’s doing and he must be satisfied with the arrangements he’s got in hand. I must confess I was a little surprised to see it happening.

“I suppose he feels confident enough to take on Lewis and that’s it,” Ecclestone told BBC radio.

He added he did not expect the kind of interpersonal rivalry which marred relations between Hamilton and former champion Fernando Alonso at McLaren.

“I think it will work. They’re both English guys and understand each other. I don’t see a problem at all,” said Ecclestone, who added he did not expect German legend Michael Schumacher to return with Mercedes, despite rumours in recent days to that effect.

“I would think it’s most unlikely. I don’t see any reason why he should. I would be very doubtful it would happen,” Ecclestone opined.

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