Silverstone considers dropping F1 race after 2019

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In the round-up: Silverstone could activate a break clause in its contract this year which leaves it without an F1 race after 2019.

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A simple explanation for F1’s struggles in the USA:

The only races that are shown on free-to-air channels are Monaco, Canada, USA, Mexico and sometimes Brazil and Britain. The rest are shown on pay television and because the rest of the GP’s (other than the ones I mentioned) particularly the ones in Europe start at 2pm local time, the live races over here start at 8am if you live on the East coast (New York, Washington, Miami) and 5am on the West coast (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas)- and sometimes, there are re-runs of the commercial/advertisement littered races later in the day. And as for the Far Eastern races, take four to six hours (depending on start times) off those times I mentioned.

The average working American works 40 hours a week and does not want to wake up early on a weekend watch a grand prix when they can watch IndyCar or NASCAR at 11am-2pm local time. These are really the two reasons why F1 has not caught on in the USA.

Only the most dedicated F1 fans in the USA (of which there are a very small percentage, if you divide that number by 320 million).

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68 comments on “Silverstone considers dropping F1 race after 2019”

  1. After the changes made to the layout in 2010, I wouldn’t even miss Silverstone to be honest if we’d lose it.

    However we need British GP. If Silverstone exits the calendar then Brands Hatch or Donington should take the place. Maybe they could alternate hosting the GP to cut the costs?

    1. Luke Hamblett
      6th January 2017, 0:43

      After what happened last time donington would not touch the sport even if they were invited to host. I have spent plenty of time at Donington over the last few years and they are still recovering from the damage caused by the last attempt. They would simply not be in the race. I think however they would happily take Moto GP when that becomes available .

      I also read somewhere that brands hatch isn’t up to the relevant safety standards. And would require expensive upgrades. I therefore doubt this will happen.

      I think it’s Silverstone or nothing and Bernie knows that. Imagine a F1 World Championship without the British GP. That would be sad due to the influence we have in the sport. It would also likely kill off interest in the sport in this country. But at least Bernie can replace it with a race in Qatar and make some more cash.

    2. There’s no way Brands could meet the safety requirements, and to be honest while I like the track, it’s too twisty for F1. Donington could work, but it would need a huge amount of investment to bring everything up to scratch. Silverstone is the only track that can really host F1 in the UK these days. I understand the hate for the new layout, I agree it’s not as good as the old one, but the best parts of the old track are still there.

      1. Brands Hatch in its current layout is too fast for its small size for F1. It would either need to be extended or changed (God forbid).

        1. *corners would need to be changed (God forbid)

      2. I disagree. Yes, we still got Copse, Maggots, Becketts and while they are extremely nice corners Bridge/Priory was my favorite and it’s all gone :( Club was also such a cool corner back in the days. It’s completely butchered now.

        1. I think the main problem with the new layout is it ruins the flow of the old circuit, it no longer feels like high speed as those new corners are so awkward. The new Abbey is pretty decent though. I don’t really feel Club is much different, Vale is quite interesting with the pitlane there now. I think if you cut out the loop and put one medium speed corner onto the Wellington straight it’d basically fix the circuit.

          Of course, none of this matter if they can’t afford the Bernie fee though.

          1. But do they not forget that loosing the F1 circus means loosing the status that accompanies a GP cicuit.
            I like to drive a real F1 circuit, as do many others.

          2. While The Loop is terrible for F1, however it is s-p-e-c-t-a-c-u-l-a-r for ding-dong action in wet / damp racing conditions with current GP2 cars and my favourite place to watch.

            Abbey is fantastic as long as you are watching in line with the International straight (e.g. looking up from Club), it really shows the awesome gap in cornering speed thanks to downforce in F1, especially compared to the watching other series from the same position.

            To me this feels like an early ‘PR’ leak by Silverstone ready for a new contract negotiation with Liberty.

      3. Donington would never go for it, having only just got the infield back to a reasonable state after the last debacle, at great cost to themselves.

    3. I thought that about silverstone too, but after watching and driving the track in various sims, it’s one of my favourites.
      It’s a shame F1 seems to be slowly killing its self. The venues really should get more money to stage the event. Bernie needs to go.

      1. They don’t get any money at all for staging the event from F1, that is the issue. They have to pay enormous fees to Bernie in order to have the privilege of staging the event and they then get to keep a proportion of the Ticket Fees. Now Bearing in mind the British GP is the best attended out of all the races then this shows why traditional circuits keep questioning whether it is worth it. Of course we can always have another desert track to replace it, with all 15 of the spectators that attend…

  2. Part of what Bernie says about the only way to stop Mercedes is by scrapping the hybrid engines might be correct. Mainly since it has been said that Mercedes would leave F1 if the formula went back to NA V-8’s.

    1. Yup, that would most likely stop Mercedes @bullmello. And it would probably also stop the likes of Renault and Honda.

      By now I just don’t read these ramblings of an overdue old man doing his best to make life hard for the companies that have actually invested in the sport in the last few years.

      1. @bascb – Probably is best to ignore the F1 chief grumbler. I think he’s afraid if he said anything sensible, nobody would pay attention.

  3. “You don’t put orthopedic shoes onto your pro football players, do you”

    Good one Bernie.

    How else does he plan to keep the manufacturers in F1 then? Or has he changed his mind about them?

    There is no way the manufacturers will hang around if we go back to V8s.

    As much as I’d like to see the old V8 or V10s (better still) back, I dont think the engine is the problem. F1 is still insanely quick, probably not as brutal as its predecessors, but fast nonetheless. The problem is that the power and speed arent being sold very well, it doesnt capture the imagination of the average person.

    Why dont we see videos like these anymore?:

    I remember watching these types of videos as a teenager and we (my friends) were blown away by quick the F1 cars were, as it put things into perspective. Aside from Red Bull’s usual promotional stunts, more if this type of videos demonstrating the sheer speed of F1 needs to be put out (lets not discuss who pays for it!)

    Or how about the cross overs like Jeff Gordon driving Montoya’s Williams ,Tony Stewart driving wedging himself into Hamilton’s Mclaren and Craig Lowndes zipping round Mt Panorama in Jenson’s Mclaren? The praise that drivers from other categories have F1 cars leaves a big impression on racing fans.

    Going back to Bernie comment about orthopaedic boots, if you pay Lionel Messi or CR7 enough money to wear it, I’m sure it would sell like hot cakes.

    1. @jaymenon10 Main reason you don’t see those kinds of comparison laps anymore is because the teams don’t have the time to be doing them with current spec cars & it’s only really Red Bull & Ferrari that go out with there older cars.

      And with regards to driver swapping, Similar reasons but with the added issue of finding dates where everyone is available as well as issues with sponsor’s & branding. Not every sponsor is happy to see one of the drivers they back in a car with different branding on it & the same can be true of engine suppliers. If you have a Ferrari contract for example your not allowed to do competitive running in anything outside of the FIAT family. It was apparently a nightmare to get Michael Schmacher at the race of champions while he was at Ferrari & even when they managed it he wasn’t allowed to drive all of the cars that were there.

    2. This was a great comparison not all that long ago:

    3. Reading this i remembered the 2013 version from RBR.

  4. With regards to COTD, While a lot of the races are on subscription TV (As has been the case since I believe 2002 when it went to SPEED Channel) the TV figures since the switch to NBC have been increasing by fairly big margins.

    NBC now has F1, Indycar & Nascar & there’s a lot of data to suggest a lot more cross viewership than I think even they were expecting. NBC’s Indycar rating increased when they got the F1 deal & there F1 coverage was also getting higher figures than SPEED were & when they started broadcasting Nascar last year they also saw a bump in both F1 & Indycar’s figures although I believe that Nascar’s figures are on a downward trend (As is there circuit attendance across the board).

    1. A number (I think half) of NASCAR races are broadcast on NBC, which is free to air but the other half is broadcast on NBCSN, which is subscription TV- and that is the channel which all of the not-North American GP’s and Monaco are broadcast on.

    2. I am American through and through, but was recently was told by a good friend and French expatriate that I was a very European. I was born and raised in the south so I really have no idea why. My only thought was, “Yeah, I do wake up at 2:00 am to watch F1… religiously”

      That said, the cost to be an F1 consumer here is steep. I have pay-TV almost exclusively for F1. I pay for 200 channels just to have NBCSN. This is a implicit strategy by NBC, owned by Comcast Universal (a service provider) to bury content behind ever increasing paywalls. I would gladly “cut the cord” if I had digital options for content. I don’t see them offering any non-subscription services any time soon. There isn’t enough exposure in the US to grow the market, and there is entire generation that has completely missed out. I was born in 1981, and the primary introduction to F1 for me was F1 video games in the 90s. I have no idea how F1 plans to expand their US market until they loosen the grip on broadcast rights.

      I attended the infamous “wind” race at Austin in 2015, braving near hypothermia. Scuderia Ferrari even sold me $150 hoodie due to relentless wind and rain. No doubt still one of the best experiences of my life. I’d have never gone or convinced my wife and brother/sister-in-law to come without that early exposure to the sport. I will remain a fan for life… but F1 MUST find a way to reach new audiences to thrive. The elitism that F1 currently portrays can be a bit of a turn-off for a lot of potential fans here.

      Access and exposure is the magic potion for success in the USA.

      1. I can also say that it would take more than the number of hands I have to count times I’ve been staring at commercials instead of action on the track at crucial times during the race. The broadcasts here are absolutely gorged with comical levels of commercial breaks. Which, when paying for a premium service, is inexcusably American.

        1. spafrancorchamps
          6th January 2017, 7:26

          Are you serious? Commercials during a sports broadcast is horrible. But when it even is a channel where you have to pay for exclusively… I would terminate the contract, and find a livestream to watch Skysports.

      2. @milkromeda @gt-racer What really baffles me is that they have no commercials for soccer matches (or football as I’m sure most of you call it here), but F1 has commercials. Why? F1 is much shorter than a soccer match and far less frequent.

        1. Are you sure, Even here in the UK we have adverts (on non bbc channels) just before the football match, at half time and at the end. Bearing in mind each half is 45 mins and then they have two advert segments in the 15 mins of half time. F1 does not have the luxury of a break at half distance. Having said that Channel 4 only shows adverts during the race when they are showing highlights, the live races are advert free.

  5. No Silverstone ? Well that will be it for me.

    1. Silverstone pushing for a post Brexit Government to pay a bit for the race to promote the country with all those countries lining up to sign free trade deals that will make britain grate again.

      1. @bascb A reason to think Silverstone don’t actually intend to pull out at all.

      2. @bascb I’m sure it’s low on May’s list of ‘things to somehow find money down the back of the sofa for’. After all, F1 has too many foreigners for the brave new direction our country is heading!

        1. Hm, you might be on to something there @optimaximal, wouldn’t want to risk all those foreign drivers, business exectutives, tourists and engineers coming into the country. Some of them are sure to be black or even Muslim!

          I guess it is worth a try for Silverstone, but I agree that racing is probably not quite as high on the list as getting rid of all the awful foreign people who work in the NHS, in argiculture, in logistics and yes, in engineering and banking.

      3. lining up to sign free trade deals that will make britain grate again

        Yeah, I heard they were going to ban bags of grated cheese. We need to make people do their own grating!

        1. A lot more likely than making Britain Great again, yes @drmouse!

      4. again?

      5. Perhaps the BRDC should have a whip round of their members domiciled overseas for tax purposes first, before suggesting that the government should contribute UK tax payers money for their benefit.

  6. This really highlights the problem with F1. When a traditional track that is always very well attended, in a country where F1 is popular, to consider dropping its race due to financial reasons, begs the question… how on earth are other tracks meant to do it!?

    1. Sponsors are the main income for tracks, so you can ask why Silverstone doesn’t have enough sponsors?

      Still Maybe we can replace Silverstone for Zandvoort …. :)

      1. Sponsoring at the track is increasingly FOM organised and owned, leaving only ticket sales, more or less @macleod, so I have to agree with @brawngp

        1. it is not only increasingly so, it is completely and exclusively FOMs business at all tracks. Just as the VIP access is. So yeah, there really is no room to increase income apart from getting in more people (not sure Silverstone can take much more) and/or rising the prices of tickets and leases for food stands – making it even less likely that people want to/can afford to come and spend the money at food stands with more expensive food!

    2. @brawngp

      how on earth are other tracks meant to do it!?

      Simple, government subsidies.

      Silverstone is the only F1 race on the calendar that receives no public money to support it – Bernie’s always been heavily critical that the UK government won’t fund it, but I guess he ignores the fact that he’s off-shored F1 (and his dealings) for tax reasons and the government might listen to him if he brought all that tax back to the UK.

    3. I am looking at going this year, cheapest seat appears t be £250 and a decent one £350. Multiple that by 100,000 people and you get a rather large number, which makes you realise just how much the fee must be to host it if they still can’t make a profit.

      1. Silverstone’s F1 BGP hosting fee is £18 million..

        1. And a quick fag packet calc of ticket income comes out at around £16-17 million at best without concessions. So, an immediate loss maker on a good day.

  7. Bernie only cares about one thing and its not Formula One, its Bernie’s bank balance.

    If he genuinely cared about the making F1 as good as it can be from sporting and entertainment viewpoint, then that time has long gone.

    Silverstone hosted the first ever F1 race. Which venue will host the last?

    1. Why do people insist on calling this man by his first name as though he deserves some kind of endearment? It’s Ecclestone and he and his repulsive kind is a bane on the sport and the world in general.

      1. Good point Dave, what about that rascal Adolf too!

  8. So that means that Eau Rouge is essentially a straight from next year. That is depressing.

    1. Thought exactly the samr thing as soon as i read it, but I believe that corner has been flat out for many years now, so it gained it’s straight status long ago. Altho take that statement with grain off salt. There is a huge amount of work engineeres need doing to transfer turns into straights

  9. Ecclestone : “It makes more sense to divide the race into two sprints. Two times 40 minute racing is more attractive to a TV audience than a boring grand prix.”

    Yeah, like it makes sense for football to have two 45 minute matches instead of one long boring match at 90 minutes, because football is losing popularity due to young people’s shorter attention span, isn’t it.
    /heavy irony

    I’m honestly worried when obvious BS is being used by powerful voices such as Ecclestone to radically change the sport and now that there are American owners. Look at the qualifying scandal this year. Seems nothing was learned from it.

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      6th January 2017, 9:04

      I love the build up of the weekend through practice to qualifying to the main event on Sunday, the big race. I want a Grand Prix, not deux Petit Prix. Two races diminish importance from each other in my opinion. It really is concerning what goes on in Bernie’s mind and how a sport can alienate the fan’s that sustain it so frequently baffles me. Root cause analysis Bernie way to deal with one 90 min boring race is to make it exciting, not to split it into 2 x 40 min boring races.

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        6th January 2017, 9:08

        *Root cause analysis Bernie, the way to deal with

    2. Actually Balue, your reply played right into Bernie’s comment. Think of the GP as a 90 minute football match without a halftime break. I think that’s what he’s getting at. There’d essentially be a halftime (which could be filled with numerous advertisements), and then the next 40-minute segment would start.

      Please note that I’m just playing devil’s advocate here and do not want a GP chopped into segments.

  10. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    6th January 2017, 8:38

    I suspect this is a ploy by Silverstone for a better deal. They know F1 is struggling for viewers, the British market is still strong thanks to our history and Lewis’ success but we could easily lose a lot of fans if we lose our GP, especially with viewing rights going completely pay to air from next season. Good timing to make this ploy with Liberty coming in, who’s focus will be fanbase oriented.

    However if this does happen and we lose Silverstone, it may just be emotion talking but that may be the last straw for me personally.

    1. @rdotquestionmark Maybe they’re already expecting the sport’s popularity to crater in 2019 when the new Sky deal kicks in?

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        6th January 2017, 9:19

        @optimaximal Well if they’re losing £2m even when the event is a sellout, anything that may lower attendees must be a serious concern.

      2. I think it is only prudent to expect a fall of attendance with the demise of FTA coverage, yes @optimaximal. And off course if they already make a loss, attendance is falling but the fee still rises by 5% every year, so even with stable attendance they will be turning bigger and bigger losses, and with lover attendance it will be a risk to the track going bust @rdotquestionmark

  11. An aggressive negotiating position, nothing more. BRDC believes, and most likely correctly, that new shareholders will adjust Silverstone’s economics to make it work. Mark this post. There will never not be a British Grand Prix as long as there is a formula one world championship.

  12. Plenty of Italians at McLaren and Williams…

  13. It doesn’t need two sprint races it just needs the format shaking up a bit. I’ve said this before, I’d like to see qualifying as the first session of the weekend on a Saturday morning (after a 20min warm-up to assess track conditions). This would reward adaptable drivers on a green circuit and potentially shake up the starting grid for the race.

    Then we have a 90min P1 on Saturday afternoon and a 60min P2 on Sunday morning for the teams to sort their race setup. That way, if a quicker car is out of position down the grid they can set their car up for overtaking. If a traditionally slower car is on pole they can set up to make the best use of clean air etc. All the drivers would also have the knowledge of where they and their championship rivals were starting and could tailor their set-up to suit.

    It would add a new dynamic to the weekend as the practice sessions would become that bit more interesting as everyone would be trying to work out how the teams & drivers were setting up in response to their grid slot. Rather than the teams just fettling the car to achieve the fastest possible lap time/stint length and best tyre life.

    Then we have the race on a Sunday afternoon as normal. Which would hopefully be more entertaining thanks to the (hopefully) mixed up grids.

    It’ll never happen but I think it would be great. For what it’s worth.

  14. petebaldwin (@)
    6th January 2017, 11:26

    As I said when the stories about Monza not being on the calendar were flying around, this is simply a negotiation tactic. F1 will remain at Silverstone.

    When a business releases information, you always have to ask yourself “why are they telling me this?” Bernie said Monza was off the calendar because he wanted to up their prices. Mercedes threatened to quit the sport to ensure the engine regs are as they want them. Red Bull threatened to quit and what happened – the 2017 regs favour aero.

    In this case, Silverstone are making it clear that the fees are too high. They have obviously shared this view with Bernie and have been told “tough.” Their response is therefore to announce that they are looking to ditch F1….

    Voilà – the ball is back in F1’s court, the fans complain that there won’t be a British Grand Prix, drivers like Jenson and Lewis start speaking out of the importance of a British GP, British sponsors start complaining, most teams lose their home-race (I’m not talking about who owns or sponsors the team – I’m talking about Enstone, Woking, Brackley etc)

    Simply put, Bernie will make more money from a British GP happening than he will make from a British GP not happening. Based on that statement, you know what the end result will be.

  15. There it is. The annual Silverstone drama. Played out with perfect consistency year after year, during the off-season.

  16. I think the COTD is a bit off target. In the age of DVRs, it’s easy to time shift the early morning races or late night East Asia races. Television viewership and event attendance for ALL motorsports in USA have dropped off a cliff in recent years. I have complained vehemently about the quality of our broadcasts compared to the rest of the world but it is all we have(unless you’re fluent in Spanish and watch the race on Spanish language channels) and it will never get better unless or until Liberty Media asserts itself. The problem is F1 promotion in this country and the lack of it from all players inside F1.

    1. knoxploration
      7th January 2017, 8:38

      It’s actually not very easy at all; in fact it’s made unnecessarily difficult. Many F1 sessions don’t even show up as a series in my Comcast DVR, and so every one has to be manually set to record. And this isn’t on some hinky no-name or homebrew DVR, this is on Comcast’s much-hyped X1 DVR. And for many folks — myself included, until F1 became as boring and utterly predictable as it is today — it’s live or nothing. Watching with a tape delay robs a race of its sense of “anything can happen” in a way, because whatever happened did so long before you even started watching.

  17. Paul Schofield
    7th January 2017, 1:46

    Does anyone know what currency is used for the Silverstone fee. If it is anything other than pounds (or Mexican pesos) then it has had a huge increase in GBP

  18. Re “Mercedes’ advantage on the engine side still is large. Because of this we have to introduce new engine rules as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter [what kind of engine rules]. The important thing is to rule out the hybrid engines,” (from the Motorsport article above).
    While the Token system was meant to hinder a engine manufacturers getting into a development war, it also made it difficult for engine manufacturers to do major redesigns of their engine. The power unit that was best at the start of 2014 was likely to be the best at the end of 2016, and if there was a significant performance gap to the other power unit manufacturers then they would struggle to catch up, which is what happened.
    Now that the Token system has been abolished I’m hopeful the other manufacturers will have power units with similar capabilities at Melbourne as what the Mercedes power unit does.
    I don’t recall Mr Ecclestone saying there was a problem with the Token system, rather, he railed against the hybrid engines saying they were too quiet and such like, harking back to ye olde V10 engines. I think it is less likely that a Token system would have resulted in the same sort of problem with either the V10 era or the recent V8 era because those technologies are much more well known.
    I think this engine spec has far more potential than either of the previous two engine specifications, so I’m expecting to see fastest all time track times broken within the next few years.

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