Silverstone’s owner, the British Racing Drivers' Club, has triggered a break clause in its contract with Formula 1 bosses to host the British Grand Prix. Unless a new contractual agreement is agreed, the 2019 event will be the last at the Northamptonshire circuit.
The current deal was agreed between the BRDC and Bernie Ecclestone, who then controlled the F1 rights, in 2009. The deal included a 5% annual fee increase, so has risen from £11.5 million in 2010 to £16.2m this year. By 2026, the last year of the agreement, the fee would have risen to £25m.
According to BRDC chairman John Grant, the organisation has lost £7.6m hosting the race over the past two seasons. Grant wants to negotiate a new deal with Liberty Media, which has taken over the rights to F1 this season.
"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," said Grant. "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."
Liberty Media has stated its intention to retain classic races, such as the British, French and German grands prix, which have a long history with the sport and formed a crucial part of its formative years. The French Grand Prix is set to return to the calendar next year for the first time since 2008. It will be hosted at Paul Ricard.
The US company is pushing hard to improve the profile of F1. An F1 Live promotional event will be held in London's Trafalgar Square tomorrow (Wednesday), a plan initiated to build excitement in the run-up to this year's British Grand Prix on 16 July - and which will doubtless revive headlines about a London Grand Prix.
Silverstone hosted the first ever F1 championship grand prix in 1950. Only Monza in Italy and Monaco have hosted more races.