Sil­ver­stone: we can’t af­ford the Bri­tish GP

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

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 ination 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.

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