The British Grand Prix has been saved after Silverstone signed a £300 million deal to host the Formula One race for the next 17 years at the Northamptonshire circuit.

Silverstone announced the news at a press conference this morning, chaired by Silverstone’s Managing Director Richard Phillips and BRDC President Damon Hill.

Ecclestone said that he was happy with the deal, but he made no secret of his irritation at having spent so much time reaching a deal with the Northamptonshire circuit.

“It’s been a long and tiring nonsense,” he said. “They could have done this whole thing months and months ago.”

Ecclestone had originally imposed a deadline of this coming Wednesday (9th December) for a deal to be put in place, otherwise a British Grand Prix in 2010 would be lost.

Speaking this morning FOM President Bernie Ecclestone, said: “I am pleased that we have reached an agreement with Silverstone for the retention of the British Grand Prix. This will ensure that Great Britain will remain on the Formula One calendar for many years to come, which is something I have personally always wanted to see happen. The team at Silverstone already knows how to organise a good event, so now everyone can look forward to next summer at Silverstone.”

Donington was awarded a contract to host the race from 2010, but lost the rights to host the British Grand Prix after failing to raise the £135m funding required for the necessary redevelopment plans.

Richard Phillips, Managing Director of Silverstone has revealed that they had been planning for the grand prix to return to the Northamptonshire circuit even before Donington had lost their funding battle.

Under the original terms offered, Silverstone would have paid a total of £370 million up to 2026 to stage the race, while in its modified form the contract now commits them to fees of just over £300 million. Ecclestone insists however that Silverstone has not been given preferential terms.

Damon Hill, President of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), owners of Silverstone Circuit, said: “We are delighted that the long term future of the British Grand Prix has been secured and that Formula 1 will be remaining at Silverstone, its natural home in Great Britain, for at least the next 17 years. This long term contract will enable us to continue with our plans to develop Silverstone into a world class facility, bringing the venue into line with the very best sports facilities in the world for the benefit of all race goers, teams, drivers and fans.

“On a personal note, I would like to thank the team at Silverstone, our board of the BRDC, the membership of the BRDC and those in the industry who have been unwavering in their support.

“We have now secured the blue riband events in both two and four wheeled World Championships, and are looking forward to an exciting future.”