Silverstone: we can’t afford the British GP
The owners of the circuit claim they will be unable to afford the British Grand Prix from 2019 onwards, due to escalating race fee
Formula 1’s buyers, Liberty Media, are facing their rst crisis even before completing the deal in which they will take a controlling interest in the sport. Silverstone have said that the future of the British GP is under threat because the contract has become too expensive.
Derek Warwick, chairman of Silverstone’s owners, the British Racing Drivers’ Club, said the circuit’s bosses were considering whether to activate a clause by which they can end the contract after the 2019 race, rather than allow it to run its full term through to 2026.
Warwick blamed a so-called ‘escalator clause’ that adds ve per cent to the race fee each year, saying it “has become too expensive for us”. Such clauses are common in all F1 race contracts.
Silverstone’s initial deal, signed in 2009 and starting with the 2010 race, was for £12m ($24m). That means the race will cost £18.6m in 2019 and £26.2m if the contract continues to 2026.
Silverstone’s operators are forced to pay these increases despite ination in the UK currently running at less than 0.5 per cent according to the consumer prices index, and at just over one per cent according to the retail prices index, which is calculated differently.
Warwick told Autosport: “We’re looking at where we are going to be in 2019, whether or not we still want the grand prix, and whether we can push Silverstone forward without the grand prix. At the end of the day, if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it.” He added that Silverstone will have to activate the break clause by the time of next year’s race if they want to drop the grand prix from 2019.
Silverstone’s owners have been struggling to make ends meet, despite trying out new ways of raising more money – such as by increasing attendance at the race and introducing a sliding scale of ticket prices similar to those employed by budget airlines. The situation is being complicated by the fact that Silverstone are looking for new investment, and four parties have expressed interest in buying the circuit.
These are: Jaguar Land Rover, Lawrence Tomlinson (the owner of the Ginetta sports car brand), Jonathan Palmer’s Motor Sport Vision company, which owns several other British tracks, and a fourth unnamed party.