Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2019

British GP promoters feared early Hamilton retirement would hit ticket sales

2019 British Grand Prix

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The promoters of the British Grand Prix have admitted they were concerned about the possible effect on the race of Lewis Hamilton retiring from Formula 1 earlier than expected.

The British Racing Drivers’ Club signed a 17-year deal to hold the British Grand Prix in 2009, when Hamilton was in his third season of Formula 1. However in 2017 the BRDC activated a ‘break clause’ inthe contract, bringing it to an end after this year’s race.

The following year Hamilton extended his contract to race for Mercedes which will take him up to the end of the 2020 F1 season. The BRDC subsequently announced on Wednesday it had signed a new, five-year deal had been signed with Formula One Management, keeping the race on the calendar until at least 2024.

BRDC chairman John Grant told RaceFans in an exclusive interview they had been concerned about the consequence of a possible slump in attendance if Hamilton had retired long before their contract expired.

“We were very bothered about that because we were worried he was going to retire early before we had replacements in place,” he said. “Now we think he’s going to stay there long enough.”

“So we’re not too bothered about that,” he added. “There would be an impact [if Hamilton retired] but demand is so strong at the moment that we think we’re pretty well covered. And actually starting from a sounder contract and a sounder business arrangement we can absorb that risk better than we would be able to before.”

Grant is also encouraged by the arrival of new British talents in F1 this year. “We’ve got the youngsters coming up which make us feel a bit warmer because Lando [Norris] is great, George Russell’s great, very personable, Alex Albon [who races under a Thai licence] as well.”

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The new contract with F1 gives the BRDC more freedom to explore new ways of promoting its race, Grant added.

“Our international audience is very small. It’s about seven percent of our audience, very low. We’d like it to be more.

“One of the things that Formula 1 have made possible now is for us to start having discussions with the other circuits which everybody was too scared to do under the old regime. We can now have discussions with other circuits about how we can cross-promote each other.

“We don’t compete with Belgium or France or anyone. Sure we’d compete with [a] London [Grand Prix], that would be an issue for us. But there’s no reason we can’t cross-promote to [other races] and try to attract each others’ audiences and maybe come up with some package deals to do that to actually give people a bit of encouragement to think differently. We’d like to do that.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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Posted on Categories 2019 British Grand Prix, 2019 F1 season articles, F1 newsTags , ,

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  • 5 comments on “British GP promoters feared early Hamilton retirement would hit ticket sales”

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      13th July 2019, 12:35

      Hamilton’s presence isn’t as crucial to Silverstone as say Max’s is to Zandvoort, aa there’s enough general fans to ensure the race is always viable, but if they really want to pack the stands every year, wrestle coverage out from behind the Sky paywall so a new generation can stumble upon it

      1. Umar A (@umartajuddin)
        13th July 2019, 18:06

        +100 Agreed. Its startling that the promoters think this, which makes me worry that they dont even know their target audience.

    2. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      13th July 2019, 19:01

      What a short sighted promoter they must have. Silverstone will still be Silverstone after Lewis retires, I’ve never been but it looks a lot like an old school NASCAR weekend with the campers and party atmosphere. Tons of people and true race fans is why this event will survive into the next decades. And Lando looks like a great talent.

    3. Not every British F1 fan supports Hamilton.

      Personally, despite his undisputable talent, I find him incredibly hard to warm to as a character, and would prefer nearly anyone other than him to win (with the exception of Vettel).

      The British Grand Prix is the most important on the calendar because it is the home GP for most of the teams. It’s bigger than any driver.

    4. The UK is just too expensive for the rest of us.

      I have looked at the British GP, but if you compare ticket prices with Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Spain it’s no contest. And then there is the travel cost as well of course.

    Comments are closed.