LONDON — The owners of Silverstone circuit have questioned the long-term future of the British Formula One Grand Prix because of the “potentially ruinous risk” posed by hosting fees.
Local media reported Thursday the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) had informed all members in a letter last month it was giving serious thought to exercising a break clause.
“The board is considering whether we should give notice before the 2017 British GP (as required) of our intention to exercise the break clause in the contract at the end of 2019,” wrote BRDC chairman John Grant.
“This is not a simple decision and we shall consider all the implications before coming to a conclusion by mid-year.”
Silverstone, which hosted the first Formula One championship race in 1950, has a contract to 2026 with a break clause on both sides.
Grant’s letter, which was shown on the website of television broadcaster ITV, said the board hoped to preserve the race at the circuit for years to come, providing it made commercial sense.
“We have to protect our club against the potentially ruinous risk of a couple of bad years,” it added. “Without some change in the economic equation, the risk and return are out of kilter.”
Last year’s race drew some 139,000 fans, boosted by triple world champion Lewis Hamilton and McLaren’s now-departed Jenson Button.
A majority of the 11 teams are based in Britain, including Hamilton’s Mercedes.
Formula One’s 86-year-old commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone told ITV that Silverstone were free to activate the break clause.
The BBC said Silverstone would have to pay nearly 17 million pounds ($21.08 million) this year, rising to 26 million by the end of the contract.
Singapore fans want F1 race to continue
Formula One fans in Singapore are keen for the race to remain there, despite negotiations between organizers and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone seemingly stalled, according to a survey conducted by British research firm YouGov.
The contract for the Singapore race expires this year and Ecclestone and organizers are still in negotiations about extending beyond 2017, though he suggested in an interview with a German autosport magazine last November that talks were not progressing well.
The Singapore race costs some S$150 million ($104.69 million) to put on every year, 60 percent of which is funded by the government. It was first staged in 2008 and the city-state renewed its contract for another five years in 2012. — Reuters