The thing I like about Damon Hill is that he manages to call a spade a spade without ever over-exaggerating for dramatic effect.

So when, as President of the British Racing Drivers Club, he admits that it is far from certain that the club will be able to conclude a deal with Bernie Ecclestone, the F1 commercial rights holder, to secure an extension of the British Grand Prix beyond 2009 then you are bound to listen. And listen hard. 

"I would say 50/50 was probably about right," Hill said last week, "I am not going to assume anything when it comes to Formula One. My experience is you should never make some presumptions, so it would be prudent to consider it a 50/50 figure. But, I am 100 per cent confident that we have got what it will take and we can deliver what F1 will be proud of, and the UK will be proud of."

Hill acknowledged that the talks were stuck in a state of limbo at the present moment - with a new commercial deal unlikely until the track redevelopment is started, and the track redevelopment unlikely to start until a commercial deal is sorted.

"I liken it to the Aladdin's cave: the genie says give me the lamp and Aladdin says get me out of the cave and I'll give you the lamp."