Silverstone owners threaten to drop British Grand Prix

Shruti Tripathi Chopra
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F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain - Qualifying
British Grand Prix could be dropped due to "potentially ruinous" costs (Source: Getty)

Silverstone's management is threatening to drop the British Grand Prix because of spiralling costs of running it.

John Grant, chairman of the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), owners of the racing track, has written to members warning of the "potentially ruinous risk" of hosting the loss-making event.

In a letter, seen by ITV, Grant said he wanted to "preserve the BGP" but warned members "the Board is considering whether we should give notice before the 2017 BGP (as required) of our intention to exercise the break clause in the BGP contract at the end of 2019. This is not a simple decision, and we will consider fully all the implications before coming to a conclusion by mid-year".

The BRDC's contract with Formula One was formed in 2009 and is due to run until 2026. However, a break clause can be activated sooner.

Read more: Jenson Button for a day: Now anyone can drive a McLaren around Silverstone

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone told ITV News: "If they want to activate a break clause, there is nothing we can do.

“Two other tracks have contacted us and we are keen to keep a British Grand Prix, there is no doubt about it, we want to have one. As far as Silverstone is concerned, it's not in our hands."

F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart, a former president of the BRDC, told ITV News the threat to back out of the contract was "credible". He went on to say that running a grand prix "is a very expensive thing".

Read more: Silverstone boss confirms his departure

"Of course we bring a big crowd in to Silverstone because motor racing is such an important part of industry as well as sport in this country, but the cost of it is very difficult to meet and be able to improve the facilities. But that may change with new ownership of F1. So there is some hope that some small amount of adjustment can take place but it has to be commercially viable though to keep the racetrack in its best condition, to develop new engineers, new racing drivers, you have to have a top line circuit and that’s what Silverstone is.

“You talk to anyone anywhere and say Silverstone and they think Formula 1 - so to lose it would be a terrible thing for this country - not just for BRDC members who are the owners of Silverstone."

The race last year, in which British star Lewis Hamilton claimed victory, attracted 139,000 fans to the circuit.

Back in August, Silverstone boss Patrick Allen was ousted for being “too close” to tycoon Lawrence Tomlinson who was plotting a takeover.

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