Silverstone club play down fears of losing British Grand Prix as F1 boss Ecclestone leaves role

Lewis Hamilton during the 2016 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Picture by Jakob Ebrey
Lewis Hamilton during the 2016 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Picture by Jakob Ebrey

Silverstone owning British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) have released a statement outlining their desires to keep the British Grand Prix at the track despite recent suggestions that the race could be dropped in 2019, writes James Beckett.

It is known that the contract that the BRDC holds to host the British round of the F1 World Championship costs the club huge sums of money annually, and it has been widely reported that Silverstone intended to end their running of the race with a break clause that could be activated this year ahead.

However, John Grant, Chairman of the BRDC, said: “Our objective is to preserve the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for many years to come but, of course, we can only do this if it makes economic sense.

“As I have said before, we will be considering over the next six months if we should give notice of our intention to exercise the break clause in our Grand Prix contract at the end of 2019.

“No decision has been made, or will be made, until mid-July. In the meantime, we will be using this period to explore with all interested parties, hopefully in private, various ways in which we might work out a more sustainable proposition”.

If the BRDC do not use their break clause, the current contract they hold to run the British Grand Prix would see the race at Silverstone until at least 2026.

News this week that the new owners of F1, Liberty Media, have removed Bernie Ecclestone as boss of the sport could enable Silverstone to negotiate with the new commercial rights holders for a better deal for the British race, an event that Silverstone first held in May 1950.

Ecclestone’s replacement, Liberty Media’s Chase Carey, has already stated that he has a desire to see races in the sport’s ‘heartland’, which he describes as Western Europe.

He said: “We value the traditional circuits and the heartland of F1 that is Western Europe. We also expect growth in North America, and can expect to see another signature race in a destination city.”

It is expected that Grand Prix events will be developed into near week-long festivals, and Carey believes races should have a ‘Superbowl atmosphere’. Appealing to the fans is one way to ensure another growth for F1, and larger crowds attending would certainly boost Silverstone’s ability to successfully host and run a Grand Prix.

Ecclestone has been handed a non-executive role within the new F1 company, saying: “I would like to thank everyone I have worked with for forty years. I expect I will attend the odd race or two, as I still have many friends connected with the sport.”