Start, Silverstone, 2018

No deal yet to keep British Grand Prix at Silverstone

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The future of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone remains uncertain despite reports two months ago claiming a deal to keep it on the F1 calendar was close.

John Grant, the chairman of the British Racing Drivers Club which organises the race, wrote to members this week to update them on the status of negotiations with Formula 1 Management.

BRDC members were told no agreement has been signed with F1 yet but “constructive” negotiations are continuing between the race promoters and Liberty Media.

The last British Grand Prix in its current contract will take place on July 14th. The BRDC activated an exit clause in its contract to negotiate new terms following this year’s grand prix. However the additions of races in Vietnam and the Netherlands to the 2020 F1 calendar has put pressure on the remaining calendar spaces.

Silverstone is one of five races on this year’s schedule which is out of contract at the end of 2019. The future of the races at the Circuit de Catalunya, Hockenheimring, Monza and Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. However the Italian Grand Prix promoters are understood to have agreed terms to keep their race on the calendar.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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13 comments on “No deal yet to keep British Grand Prix at Silverstone”

  1. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
    1st June 2019, 9:50

    They should find a contract with Silverstone. It is one of the most iconic races of the year. So many world champions and teams are from Britain, the British public must be the biggest in the world watching F1.

    We can’t afford having another city track like Sochi or stuff. Circuits like Silverstone, Monaco, Monza, Spa, Suzuka and Interlagos are integral parts of the calendar. Liberty and whoever else is in charge of all this should keep that in mind.

    1. Since Turkey (San Marino?) was cancelled the only quality race remaining in non-EU Europe.

    2. @panagiotism-papatheodorou The Sochi Autodrom isn’t really a city track, though.

  2. Maybe the British GP can be hosted in Stevenage. Hosting a major event may bring investment that elevates the town above being a slum.

  3. Silverstone always has the fewest empty seats visible on TV. Some of the events are quite tragic now with rows of empty seats noticeable in every shot. This is not a good look.
    It shouldnt be long before they have to lower the price for the organizers, so that ticket prices come down.

    1. There have been a few suggestions that these communications and the public statements by the BRDC are really just a way of working the fans and the media into putting more pressure in Liberty Media, which was a tactic that the BRDC used fairly liberally when negotiating with Bernie. The thing is, it sounds like the BRDC’s tactics are, at best, unhelpful and at worst counterproductive, as it sounds like it is mainly just antagonising Liberty Media given that they don’t really do “negotiation by media” in the way that the BRDC is used to doing things.

      1. I tend to agree. We’ve seen this sort of thing before.
        It didn’t really work all the well with Bernie either as he always took the attitude of “oh well if you don’t pay you’ll lose the race”.
        At least though Bernie, having had a racing background, actually understood the importance of Silverstone to F1 and it’s history. I’m not sure that the people from Liberty (with one obvious exception) actually do, and that is the danger.

        Bottom line though, I’m pretty sure th BRDC send out these statements not so much as to put pressure on Liberty, but more to alert the public that ticket prices are going to be massively hiked up again. Pretty much “prices are going to go up a lot but hey, it’s not our fault” statement.

  4. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    1st June 2019, 18:16

    I don’t mean to be cynical but isn’t almost every year Silverstone is ‘in danger’ of not being on the calendar? Haven’t there already been two or three ‘last races’ at the track and then the year after it’s still miraculously there?

  5. jamesluke2488
    1st June 2019, 19:41

    Silverstone to F1 is like Le Mans to sports cars or Indy 500 for the indy car series, its the home of that sport where it all began. You start losing the identity of that sport by losing the key races which the sport is built on.

  6. The BRDC are a clueless committee of old men. They’ve made a series of bad decisions, not only regarding F1, but just about everything regarding the circuit. If they lose the race, they’ve only themselves to blame.

  7. BRDC are selling out their seats on a regular basis. If they can’t make the financial side work, clearly, they’re not charging enough.

    Oh well, I hope they enjoy looking at their partially underground (or behind-a-mount, depending on your perspective) white whale of a pit building. I’m sure that thing will easily pay for itself with a couple of shakedowns from the likes of Mercedes, Red Bull or Racing.

    1. @proesterchen, the thing is, the General Admission price just for the main race on Sunday is £175 per person, whilst the seating is up to £330 per person.

      The ticket prices have been steadily going up faster than the disposable income of the average UK worker – inflation adjusted, the median weekly salary of a UK worker is still below what it was in 2008 and, at best, isn’t going to recover to 2008 levels until the early 2020’s – to the point where charging more is starting to become counterproductive.

      Yes, the BRDC has sold out at Silverstone, but that has mainly been through running sales in recent years to try and boost overall numbers. Whilst it is still a well attended race, the weekend attendance figures have fallen slightly over the past few years (the 2018 race weekend attendance was quoted as 340,000, which is down by about 10,000 on two years ago and 4,500 on what it was in 2017), as it seems that the ticket prices have probably reached the point at which increasing it any higher will start costing sales.

      You can run a ballpark estimate to look at the sort of profits that the BRDC would need to make per ticket in order to pay off the hosting fee – indeed, Dieter did that only a few months ago in this article.

      If, as he suggested, the cost of staging the British Grand Prix is £35 million, and an average daily attendance of 120,000, you need to generate about £300 per person just to break even. Now, it is fair to say that the BRDC are certainly not without their flaws for the way that they’ve managed operations at Silverstone, as they have made a fair few mistakes over the years, but at the same time you have to remember that the BRDC has to fund the race purely from ticket sales as it gets no state help – compare with, for example, the reimbursements that COTA gets for the US GP, or the fact that Spa-Francorchamps can sell tickets cheaply because the local authorities in Wallonia pay for the cost of hosting the race.

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