Nov.1 (GMM/Inautonews.com) That the owners of Silverstone could lease the British grand prix venue to a Qatar consortium is “wonderful” news, according to F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

In late August, the Qatar Investment Authority denied there are any “relevant negotiations, currently nor in the past” about renting the Northamptonshire track for 150 years at a cost of some $400 million.

Other reports wrongly claimed that the winning bidder was a private one with wealthy family connections to the British Racing Drivers’ Club and F1.

In fact, it has emerged this week that the Qatar-funded Alpha Group has put down a non-refundable deposit to guarantee a period of exclusive talks.

The Telegraph reports that part of the deal would be for the winning bidder to spend at least $80 million on further developing Silverstone.

Ecclestone, historically a staunch critic of Silverstone and its current operators, allayed any fears about a British institution falling into foreign control.

“It’s a wonderful idea,” he said. “It’s what Silverstone need. They need to let the professionals run it.”

The F1 chief executive said Europe must accept the world’s move to the east.

“People in Europe have got to understand that Europe will be sold to the Chinese or India or these people in the Middle East,” he said. “It is gradually happening now.”