Decision on GP only in July: Silverstone owners

LONDON • Silverstone's owners have dismissed recent media reports suggesting the British Formula One Grand Prix would be dropped after 2019 as "speculative and wrong".

The British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) said in a statement on Friday that no decision on exercising a break clause would be made before mid-July, when the race is held.

"Our objective is to preserve the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for many years to come but, of course, we can only do this if it makes economic sense," said BRDC chairman John Grant.

"We will be considering over the next six months if we should give notice of our intention to exercise the break clause in our Grand Prix contract at the end of 2019. No decision has been made, or will be made, until mid-July."

Grant added that the BRDC would be using the time until then "to explore with all interested parties, hopefully in private, various ways in which we might work out a more sustainable proposition".

The BRDC informed all members in a letter last month that it was giving serious thought to exercising a break clause because of the "potentially ruinous risk" posed by hosting fees that increased annually.

Media reports have indicated that Silverstone will have to pay nearly £17 million (S$29 million) to host the race this year, rising to £26 million by the end of the contract.

Silverstone, a former World War II airfield that hosted the first Formula One championship race in 1950, has a contract until 2026 with a break clause on both sides from 2019 that has to be exercised two years in advance.

Formula One is undergoing a change in ownership, with United States-based Liberty Media taking over from CVC Capital Partners as commercial rights holders.

The deal is due for completion by the end of this year's first quarter, and could even be wrapped up within weeks.

Liberty has said that it wants to safeguard the traditional venues and put more emphasis on marketing the sport to new audiences, reducing costs and putting on a better show for fans.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 22, 2017, with the headline 'Decision on GP only in July: Silverstone owners'. Print Edition | Subscribe