A letter from the BRDC chairman suggests Silverstone could break clause in its contract if economic risk is too high

The future of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone has been cast into doubt after a letter from British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) chairman John Grant exposed concerns of unsustainable costs.

The letter, which was seen by ITV News, explains that hosting Formula 1’s British round costs Silverstone more than it makes back over the weekend. Grant believes this could justify breaking a clause in the circuit’s contract with F1 as soon as this year, meaning the last race would be held there in 2019, seven years before the contract ends.

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“Your Board would like to preserve the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for many years to come, but only if it makes sense to do so,” Grant says in his letter. “And we have to protect our club against the potentially ruinous risk of a couple of bad years. Without some change in the economic equation, the risk and return are out of kilter, and so we are exploring various ways in which this might be altered.”

Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone responded to the news on ITV News, saying: "If they want to activate a break clause, there is nothing we can do.”

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Last year, 139,000 fans attended the British Grand Prix, when Silverstone paid close to £18 million for the right to join the 2016 calendar. The cost rises by 5% each year according to rules set by F1’s current management team, headed by Ecclestone. However, that could soon be subject to change following F1’s acquisition by Liberty Media.

In Grant's letter, he recognises this opportunity for change, saying: “[The deal has] the potential to bring changes which could enhance F1 in a number of ways and, over time, could maybe lead to a more equitable balance for promoters such as ourselves.”

Autocar has contacted the BRDC for a response to the news but is yet to receive a response.

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Join the debate


6 January 2017
Should be - Silverstone is at risk due to high levels of 'greed' in certain quarters.

6 January 2017
might help bring in more overseas race fans.

6 January 2017
Not the first time a circuit is contemplating not staging a F1 race, while a few have already gone that route, simply because of the greed of the sports commercial rights holder. And in order trying to recoup their costs, many circuits have to charge high ticket prices which in turn puts many fans off. And for those who find ticket prices too high and instead have to watch F1 on the box, again some channels can't afford to show all or some of the races live because of what they're being asked to cough up by Bernie.

6 January 2017
According to a report on ITV news last night, the British Grand Prix is the only one on the calendar not to enjoy some form of state subsidy. That said, I'm sure I would not want any of my tax money going to further enrich Eccleston and his cronies. Doubtless, he'll soon announce that Donnington or some other circuit stands ready to replace Silverstone.

6 January 2017
Didn't JLR offer to buy Silverstone only to be blocked by Porsche who had the power to effectively veto their bid? Had JLR succeeded presumably the British GP might not be at risk. Maybe JLR should build their own race track only bigger, better and with better parking.

6 January 2017
TStag wrote:

Didn't JLR offer to buy Silverstone only to be blocked by Porsche...

Or perhaps JLR failed to do their proper due diligence beforehand.

9 January 2017
TStag wrote:

Didn't JLR offer to buy Silverstone only to be blocked by Porsche who had the power to effectively veto their bid? Had JLR succeeded presumably the British GP might not be at risk.

Who owns the track has nothing to do with the viability of running the British GP. Unless you're saying that had JLR been successful they would have covered the shortfall? The escalating contract Silverstone has with FOM is what is placing the GP at risk. It is no longer economical. Let's just hope Liberty are less greedy than Bernie.

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