At an extraordinary general meeting, the club’s 820 members voted by a slender majority in favour of moving forward with negotiations with JLR.
The next stage is for JLR and Silverstone to discuss the logistics of the deal in terms of finances and length of lease. It has been reported that JLR would pay around £33m to the BRDC in instalments and is seeking a 249-year lease, but this has not been officially confirmed by the manufacturer.
JLR intends to make Silverstone the company’s headquarters in the UK, with plans to develop a heritage centre, museum display, design workshop, hotel and customer handover buildings featuring as part of the proposal. In total, there would be offices for around 1000 staff.
A statement from JLR confirmed only that the company is, “exploring potential options at Silverstone with the BRDC, but it is too soon to share details at this stage. All discussions remain confidential.”
Under the deal, it is likely that the BRDC would become a tenant of the circuit and Silverstone Circuits Ltd (SCL), a operating company that is a subsidiary of the BRDC, would then run the track on JLR’s behalf.
As such, racing activities are expected to continue to be held at the venue if the deal goes ahead, including the loss-making British Grand Prix. Under the deal, the SCL is likely to retain the contract with Formula 1 Management (FOM) to host the grand prix until 2026.
Ahead of the BRDC’s vote, club chairman John Grant said there would be “legally binding agreements that they [JLR] will do nothing that would cause destruction of major events”. He added that the JLR bid would be “more than enough to settle [the BRDC’s] debts and commitments”.
Adding Silverstone to its portfolio would allow JLR to have a new formal 'home' in the UK - a themed experience in the same vein as Mercedes-Benz world, which is based at Brooklands. Parts of the Silverstone circuit could then be used for driving experiences, driver training and customer handovers.
No timeframe has been put on the negotiations but it is likely that JLR will seek to conclude the deal within months. Autocar understands that even if the plan does go ahead, a completion date for the project would sit firmly after 2020.
It's believed that while JLR's Special Vehicle Operations Division will have a presence at the new site, the division's permanent home will still be at Prologis Park in Coventry.
The issue of Silverstone’s ownership has been clouded by a second proposal headed by Ginetta Cars boss Lawrence Tomlinson. In the days leading up to Thursday’s vote, he and other club members pressed for a ‘no’ vote to the JLR bid and voiced concerns over the security of motor racing at the venue if the deal with the car company went ahead. According to Autocar’s sister publication Autosport, Tomlinson had proposed taking over Silverstone in its entirety.