Why retaining Silverstone is good for F1
Earlier today Formula 1 bosses announced that the British Grand Prix at Silverstone will remain on the calendar for at least another five years.
The future of the race had been uncertain for some time after the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC), owners of the Silverstone circuit, exercised a break clause in their contract in 2017.
Five year deal
Their contract was due to run until 2026 but the circuit owners were not happy with the “escalator” clause in the contract that would see the race fee increase by 5% every year.
Silverstone is one of the only circuits left on the calendar that is entirely self-funded and the BRDC were not prepared to ruin themselves financially in order to host a Grand Prix.
After two years of negotiation, the two parties have finally reached an agreement.
“We are really pleased to confirm that the British Grand Prix will stay on the FIA Formula 1 World Championship calendar for at least the next five years” said the CEO of Formula 1, Chase Carey.
“We have always said that, if it is to have a long-term future, our sport must preserve its historic venues and Silverstone and Great Britain represent the cradle of this sport”.
The knock on effect if it had been lost
The news of a contract extension will be welcome news to UK fans after the sport risked losing its staple race.
Not only does Silverstone have a rich history when it comes to motorsport, it is also a hub to the motorsport community with the likes of Racing Point, Red Bull, Mercedes and Renault all based a short journey away.
If the series lost the British Grand Prix it could have provoked those teams in to considering basing their factories in mainland Europe instead.
That could have meant Formula 1 disappearing from the UK almost entirely, and if it had happened, it would have also made thousands of people redundant.
Formula 1 is a global sport and it boasts of having 500 million fans worldwide. The UK has a large share for this market and over the last two years over 680,000 people have attended the British Grand Prix.
In 2018 Silverstone had the highest attendance figures of all the Grand Prix with 340,000 fans attending over the race weekend.
Liberty Media needed to keep its promise
In a time when Formula 1 has been receiving a lot of criticism for its show and the fact more and more TV audiences are having to pay to watch it, the series bosses could simply not afford to lose the British Grand Prix.
When Liberty Media took over Formula 1 they stated that they wanted to retain the historic races and if they lost Silverstone from the calendar they would have been torn apart for their empty promises.
Liberty Media have also said that they want to introduce new street races in iconic cities and this is part of the reason why it took so long to get an agreement with Silverstone’s owners.
It has been no secret that Formula 1 bosses want to hold a Grand Prix in London. With its iconic landmarks it would create a great backdrop for a Grand Prix.
Games at play?
But Silverstone weren’t happy about this. All they saw was the potential financial hit it would have on them.
Silverstone believed that if there were to be a London Grand Prix then there would be a lot less fans attending their circuit and a loss of revenue as a result.
In all reality it is unlikely a London Grand Prix will ever get off the ground. It would be near impossible for Formula 1 to have a circuit in the centre of London and F1’s Sporting Director, Ross Brawn has already admitted to that.
If there were to be a London Grand Prix it would have to be held on the outskirts of the city and then, well, it isn’t really a Grand Prix of London at that point.
Silverstone know this but they have used it to their advantage, to stall the contract negotiations, and to get themselves better terms.
We don’t know if the terms have improved but they must have been good enough for a deal to be signed.
Every time the Silverstone contract is due to expire there is always uncertainty but a deal is always sorted in the end.
That reason is simply because Formula 1 needs Silverstone more than Silverstone needs Formula 1.