Silverstone sparks threat to British GP

Motorsport
Silverstone sparks threat to British GP

The 2019 British GP could be the last, unless a new contract is agreed between Silverstone circuit and Formula One owners Liberty Media.

The circuit’s owner, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), has formerly activated a break clause in its contract with Liberty, stating that in the last two years alone hosting the Grand Prix has left it with a net loss of £7.6 million.

BRDC chairman John Grant says that it is not financially viable for the circuit to deliver the GP under the terms of the current contract; “We sustained losses of £2.8m in 2015 and £4.8m in 2016, and we expect to lose a similar amount this year – we have reached the tipping point where we can no longer let our passion for the sport rule our heads.

“It would not only risk the very future of Silverstone and the BRDC, but also the British motorsport community that depends on us,” Grant adds.

Rises in Promoter’s fee

Silverstone’s current contract, agreed in 2009, requires the payment of a promoter’s fee to host the GP, and this increases by 5% each year – it has risen from £11.5 million in 2010 to £16.2 million. The increase in UK inflation over the same period has been £2.8 million less, and if Silverstone was to fulfil the full current contract it will be paying £25m by 2026.

Liberty took over ownership of Formula 1 at the end of 2016 from the group headed by Bernie Ecclestone, and Grant is keen to point out that Silverstone is supportive of the changes the Liberty team are making to improve F1.

Silverstone believes it needs to make a move to protect its presence in British motorsport as a whole. Photo: Ebrey/BTCC

“Our hope is that an agreement can still be reached, so that we can ensure a sustainable and financially viable future for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for many years to come.”

Most observers believe the move by the BRDC is a bid to win a more agreeable deal with Liberty. The British Grand Prix is one of the most revered races in F1, Silverstone having hosted the very first F1 World Championship race in 1950, and it is generally agreed that no other British circuit has the facilities to host the race.

Also many of today’s leading F1 teams, including Mercedes-Benz, Red Bull, Haas, Renault and Force India, are based close to the Silverstone circuit in Britain’s ‘Motorsport Valley.’

Andrew Charman

Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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