Amid all the doubts about the future of the British grand prix, a formula one race in the country is a contractual requirement, the Times newspaper has reported.

Amid all the doubts about the future of the British grand prix, a formula one race in the country is a contractual requirement, the Times newspaper has reported.

It was already known that certain traditional European races - including in Italy, Belgium, Germany, France and Britain - enjoy protected status with the governing FIA.

Max Mosley revealed recently that the protection is limited, but it now emerges that the famous races will also be safeguarded by the next Concorde Agreement that Bernie Ecclestone wants the teams to sign.

With Donington's 2010 date in doubt, current British GP venue Silverstone is therefore "on standby" to host formula one beyond June's race, the newspaper claimed.

An unnamed team boss reportedly said that "the contract demands specifically that (the) five key races are protected as part of formula one's heritage".

However, despite the report, France has dropped off the 2009 calendar, although serious efforts to restore the country's place in F1 are being made.

"Britain is a key protected race," said Damon Hill, president of the British Racing Drivers' Club, which owns Silverstone.

"Everybody was sceptical about Donington from the start, yet we have funds here to improve our circuit and we are improving all the time.

"The FIA should also act responsibly for the health and wellbeing of the sport," said the 1996 world champion. "Britain is a protected race and they should look after it."