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Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard vs Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button?

9 December 2009 | Posted in Notes & Insights | By Michael Long | Contact the author

Most of England will be willing the country's soccer team on in its quest to win the Fifa World Cup next summer, but a small corner of Northamptonshire could be forgiven for hoping the team does not reach the final.

Earlier this week, iconic racetrack Silverstone confirmed a long-term agreement to host the British Grand Prix, safeguarding the race's future for the next 17 years. In the short term, though, the 2010 edition faces the challenge of being held on the same day as next summer's World Cup final.

The race's organisers insist they are not worried about direct competition, and will erect a giant screen to allow racegoers to watch the World Cup final after the end of the Grand Prix. "I think we'll have the biggest grand prix and World Cup audience of the lot," said  Silverstone's managing director, Richard Phillips, to The Guardian newspaper. "It will be the biggest crowd watching football on TV. It's what we did in 2006, and that's what we're going to do again."

However, there can be no doubt that England's presence in the final would rob the race of much of the attention it can otherwise expect. While hardened petrolheads will have their gaze firmly fixed on Silverstone no matter what, Formula One could feel the loss of some of its more casual fans - as well as the majority of the sports pages of the nation's newspapers.

That would be a blow at a time when the British Grand Prix will see the last two world champions, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton - both British - go head to head in McLaren cars.

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