Silverstone Pulls the Plug on British Grand Prix in Row Over Money

  • Silverstone Pulls the Plug on British Grand Prix in Row Over Money

Silverstone Pulls the Plug on British Grand Prix in Row Over Money

Silverstone's future as a host for F1 races was thrown into doubt today when the circuits owners confirmed that they had activated a break clause in their F1 contract, meaning that after 2019 we could be faced with the prospect of an F1 calendar with no British Grand Prix.

The BRDC announced at Silverstone on Tuesday - three days before practice for this year's British GP begins - that its contract with F1 was no longer financially viable and it wanted to exercise its right to stop the deal after the 2019 event.

"We sustained losses of £2.8m [US$3.6m] in 2015 and £4.8m [US$6.2] in 2016, and we expect to lose a similar amount this year".

The decision means that the British Grand Prix faces a bleak existence and will no longer be held at Silverstone unless a new deal is agreed with the sport's new American owners Liberty Media.

The UK is well served by other serious, well-run permanent race circuits but none can match Silverstone's infrastructure and scale.

In recent years Formula 1 has shut up shop in some traditional grand prix venues and taken the franchise to new places, like Dubai and Russian Federation.

However, a a 5% year-on-year increase in hosting fees would see costs rise up to an unsustainable £26million by 2027.

Liberty Media has told Silverstone that there would be no room for renegotiating terms, imposed in 2009 under the uncompromising leadership of Bernie Ecclestone.

"I would be surprised if eventually we lose Silverstone", he said at the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Those that do attend will still be treated to an impressive show as London hosts its first public F1 demonstration run since 2004, when 500,000 people lined the streets around Piccadilly Circus to catch a glimpse of F1 cars.

A spokesman for Formula One, owned by US -based Liberty Media, said the decision and the timing of the BRDC's announcement was regrettable.

He said in a statement: "We have reached the tipping point".

June 16 was the deadline for them to activate the break clause in the contract. Discussions, he said, were ongoing with the F1 owners to resolve the situation and secure the long-term viability of Silverstone hosting the British GP. "Having the British Grand Prix at Silverstone - the biggest occasion on the motor racing calendar - serves as a focal point for so much of what is great about United Kingdom motorsports, and the wider engineering and manufacturing sectors".