Silverstone could drop out of the Formula 1 calendar as early as 2020, with owners British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) considering activating a break-clause in their contract.
Silverstone has been a regular fixture on the F1 map since the inaugural season in 1950, and signed a 19-year contract extension in 2009.
However, despite record audience in recent years on the back of Lewis Hamilton’s title success, hosting the British Grand Prix remains a costly affair for the organisers. The presence of an annual license fee escalator in the contract has also hurt the financial viability of the race.
As a result, BRDC chairman John Grant wrote a letter to the members, where he made a serious consideration about terminating the circuit’s long-term F1 contract.
If BRDC does decide to drop out of the F1 map early, it must inform FOM chief Bernie Ecclestone before next year’s race.
“Your board would like to preserve the BGP at Silverstone for many years to come, but only if it makes sense to do so,” he wrote in a letter leaked to ITV. “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.
“Among other alternatives, the Board is considering whether we should give notice before the 2017 BGP (as required) of our intention to exercise the break clause in the BGP contract at the end of 2019. This is not a simple decision, and we will consider fully all the implications before coming to a conclusion by mid-year.”
However, Ecclestone remains unfazed by the threat, saying he has been in touch with other venues which could replace Silverstone.
“If they want to activate a break clause, there is nothing we can do,” he told ITV.
“Two other tracks have contacted us and we are keen to keep a British Grand Prix, there is no doubt about it, we want to have one. As far as Silverstone is concerned, it's not in our hands.”
by Rachit Thukral