The owners of the Silverstone circuit have activated a break clause in their contract to host the British Grand Prix.
In the week ahead of the race itself, the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) announced its intent to trigger a break clause in the contract with Formula One owners Liberty Media. The clause means that unless renegotiation takes place, the race will move away from Silverstone after 2019.
BRDC chairman John Grant announced the news in a press conference earlier today (11/07). The chairman said the decision was taken as the terms of the contract signed in 2009 to host the race was no longer financially viable, but they hoped to be able to negotiate a new deal.
He said, “This decision has been taken because 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. 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.”
Silverstone first held the British Grand Prix in 1950. After initially sharing hosting rights with Brands Hatch and Aintree circuits, the race has been exclusively held at the circuit on the Buckinghamshire/Northamptonshire border since 1987. The circuit is also the UK’s only circuit currently accredited to host a Formula One race.
The current contract for Silverstone was signed in 2009 and had been due to run until 2026. The deal had a 5% escalation fee, which has lead it the cost of hosting the race growing from £12million in 2010 to £17million for this year’s edition, with the fee forecast to rise to £27million for the end of the contract.
A spokesman for F1 owners Liberty Media told the BBC, “The week leading up to the British Grand Prix should be a week of great celebration for F1 and Silverstone. We deeply regret 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.
“Our focus is still to preserve the British Grand Prix. We will carry on negotiating with the promoter in good faith and in private to reach a fair and equitable solution.”