British Grand Prix future in doubt

The owners of the Silverstone circuit have activated the break clause on their contract to host the British Grand Prix and will now only hold the race until 2019.

This means the Formula One circuit is not likely include a British race on the calendar after that, as no other circuits in the UK hold Formula One classification. The British Grand Prix has been part of the F1 schedule since the world championship began in 1950.

However, unless Silverstone owners the British Racing Drivers’ Club reach a new agreement, that is expected to end in two years.

John Grant, chairman of the BRDC, said, ‘It is not financially viable for us to deliver the British Grand Prix under the terms of our 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.’

In a statement, the Formula One Group said, ‘We deeply regret that Silverstone has chosen instead to use this week to posture and position themselves and invoke a break clause that will take effect in three years’ time. We offered to extend the current deadlines in order to focus on everything that is great about Silverstone and Formula One. Regretfully the Silverstone management has chosen to look for a short term advantage to benefit their position.’

Silverstone initiated a £50m investment programme in 2009 to meet criteria necessary to secure the race until 2026, but the financial issues it currently faces are partly a result of that, most notably, the escalator clause that increases fees for hosting the race by five per cent each year each year.

Silverstone argues that it would be almost impossible to sell more tickets while raising prices is not viable either.

Stuart Pringle, the circuit’s sporting director, said, ‘You can’t just keep putting prices up for the fans. There is a breaking point beyond which fans will not go.’