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.
“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.”
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.”