Formula One’s new owner Liberty Media is considering moving the British Grand Prix to east London, following Silverstone’s owners yesterday triggered a break clause that will see an end to the race at the circuit after 2019 unless a new deal is agreed.
The British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), which owns Silverstone, warned this year of the potentially ruinous cost of hosting the race under the contract with the Formula One Group.
It is set to run until 2026 but includes a clause that raises the hosting fee each year. It is understood to have been £12 million (S$21.34 million) in 2010 and is set to rise to £27 million by the contract’s conclusion.
The BRDC had made its concerns known to Formula One’s new owner, Liberty Media, before making its decision.
“It is not financially viable for us to deliver the British Grand Prix under the terms of our current contract,” said John Grant, chairman of the BRDC. “We sustained losses of £2.8 million in 2015 and £4.8 million 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.
“However, I want to be clear that although we have now activated the break clause, we are fully supportive of the changes the Liberty team are making to improve the F1 experience.
“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.”
Liberty has previously said it wants to engage with circuits in order to help them generate more revenue but Silverstone is already almost at capacity in terms of selling tickets.
The race is one of the best-attended on the F1 calendar and attracted 139,000 fans last year and a similar number in 2015. This weekend’s race is expected to attract 140,000 spectators to Silverstone on Sunday alone.
Liberty is understood to be keen to keep a British Grand Prix on the calendar. Chase Carey, the chairman and chief executive of Formula One, said that he wants more street races, including one in London.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, was thought to oppose the idea due to the pollution, but a source said that Liberty is considering the Docklands area in east London. The cars would race with Canary Wharf and the River Thames behind them.
The Canary Wharf Group, backed by the Qatari Investment Authority, owns much of the area.
A statement from Khan said that he would consider a race.
“London is always open to hosting the world’s best sport events,” he said.
“We have had no approach from F1 about a race. We would need to consider the full impact of a race weekend on air pollution and safety.”
Source: The Guardian & Reuters