Ecclestone thinks deal will be set in Silverstone

SPIELBERG • Former Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes Silverstone will stay on the calendar even if, as expected, the circuit's owners activate a break clause in their contract this week.

He did the original deal with the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) that runs until 2026 and includes a break clause from 2019 that has to be exercised two years in advance.

"I would be surprised if eventually we lose Silverstone," he said at the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday. "It's a good event. And it probably falls into line much more with the way Liberty want to see Formula One go, in that direction."

An announcement by the BRDC is expected today or tomorrow, ahead of Sunday's British GP at the former World War Two airfield.

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US-based Liberty Media, which took over the sport in January and moved Ecclestone, 86, aside into an undefined "chairman emeritus" role, has said that it wants to protect F1's traditional European races.

Silverstone hosted the first world championship grand prix in 1950 and Britain, home to a majority of the 10 teams as well as three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, has been on the calendar every year since then.

Sean Bratches, the sport's new commercial managing director, last week described Silverstone as "one of the jewels in the crown of Grand Prix racing".

The BRDC has indicated that activating the break clause would allow it to negotiate a better deal than the current one and steer clear of the "potentially ruinous risk" of hosting fees that rise every year.

Ecclestone said Silverstone, which pays less than most other circuits, had got "a very good deal".

"I'm surprised they can't make it work, that's all," he said. "At the moment there isn't anywhere else. There may well be in a couple of years.

"But if they are losing all the money, which is what they say they are doing, they can't continue can they? Because somebody has to pay."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2017, with the headline 'Ecclestone thinks deal will be set in Silverstone'. Print Edition | Subscribe