Silverstone’s hopes of hanging onto the British Grand Prix, even as a temporary stop-gap measure, were ruled out this week by Bernie Ecclestone in the most singular and decisive fashion.

The F1 commercial rights holder made it clear that he would prefer to cancel the race for a year in 2010 in order to allow Donington Park more time to complete its rebuilding work.

Following a meeting with Simon Gillett, the chief executive of Donington Park Ventures, the company that has the contract for the race, Bernie revealed that as long as Donington was progressing well, he would be prepared to give the circuit 12 more months to prepare.

"If the work at Donington is not finished in time, we would be happy to skip a year," Ecclestone told The Times. "I don't want to lose the British grand prix — that's the last thing we want to do, but we aren't going to Silverstone for sure."

Gillett is being sued for unpaid rent by the Wheatcroft family, who own Donington Park. This has led to further doubt being cast as to whether their extensive programme of upgrading the circuit will be completed in time. Ecclestone, however, was "heartened and confident" about Gillett's prospects after meeting the Donington chief.