The owners of Silverstone and Formula 1 have signed a deal to keep the British Grand Prix at the historic circuit until at least 2024.
The agreement is the culmination of two years of negotiations between the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) and motorsport's premier category.
F1 chairman Chase Carey said the Northamptonshire venue is an "integral part" of the sport's future, according to BBC reports. BRDC chairman John Grant added: "Silverstone is one of the most iconic grands prix on the F1 calendar, and with such a rich heritage, it would have been disastrous for the sport and fans had we not managed to find a way forward."
Back in 2017, the BRDC triggered a break clause in the 17-year contract, signed in 2009, citing the financial terms of running the race as “unsustainable”.
The sticking point had been the multi-million-pound fee it must pay to host the grand prix, which increases by 5% each year because of an escalator clause, despite the amount – currently believed to be in the region of £20 million – being less than other circuits around the world must pay.
Silverstone's managing director, Stuart Pringle, spoke to Autocar at the start of this month. “I fully accept that we don’t pay as much as Timbuktu or the latest place F1 has signed up,” he said in reference to the pursuit of new additions to the calendar, such as Vietnam, which is confirmed for 2020. “But Timbuktu doesn’t have a fanbase that year on year, come rain or shine, come British champion or not, turn up and pay their money.”
Despite a number of new additions, Liberty Media, which purchased Formula 1 in early 2017, has stated its desire to keep historic European rounds, such as Italy, Germany, France and Britain, on the calendar. Silverstone hosted the very first F1 world championship race in 1950.
Silverstone has also been promised that its position on the calendar will be safe even if a much-mooted London street circuit is added to the calendar.
Silverstone has just been resurfaced for a second consecutive year following its disastrous MotoGP round last September, when heavy rain forced the race to be cancelled because of drainage problems that made the track un-rideable.
Despite that blow, however, a deal has also been signed to keep the top motorbike racing category there until 2021.
Interview with Stuart Pringle
“Silverstone is in effect a tax collector for F1,” Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle told Autocar earlier this month. “The fans pay their ticket, they money washes through our company and we hand it across to F1. If everything adds up, we break even or make a small black number. If it doesn’t it’s a red number, we cover the difference and call it ‘brand value’ or something.”
He also rejected the old argument that the UK government should come to the financial aid of the circuit.