The future of the British Grand Prix was called into question once again on Thursday after a row between the owners and operators of Donington Park, which is due to stage the race from next year.

Wheatcroft and Son Limited, which owns the Midlands circuit, issued legal proceedings at Derby County Court against Donington Ventures Leisure Limited (DVLL), the circuit operators, for 2.47 million pounds in rent arrears and forfeiture of the circuit lease.

DVLL acquired a 150-year lease in 2007 and Donington Park, best known for staging top-class motorcycling events, has since been awarded a ten-year contract to host the British Grand Prix after seeing off the challenge from Silverstone, where the race is currently staged.

The facilities at Silverstone, and problems regarding access to the track, led to repeated criticisms from Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

Kevin Wheatcroft, of Wheatcroft and Sons, said they had been left with no choice but to take legal action.

"It is with great reluctance we have taken this decision," he said in a statement issued by lawyers Browne Jacobson.

"Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd owe us nearly 2.5 million pounds in rent dating back to September 2008.

"Despite receiving numerous reassurances over a number of months, they have consistently failed to meet their financial obligations under the terms of the lease.

"We have held off taking legal action for as long as possible, but have been left with no choice but to commence proceedings to recover the outstanding rent and forfeiture of the lease."

It was not until January this year that DVLL got the go-ahead for a 100 million pounds redevelopment which it is hoped will put Donington on an equal footing with the likes of more modern circuits such as Bahrain, where the latest round of the Formula One world championship takes place this weekend.

Ecclestone has made it clear that if the track does not come up to standard he won't hesitate to remove the British Grand Prix from the Formula One calendar even though it is one of the sport's most historic races.