Could this be the end of the British Grand Prix? The owner of Silverstone said today it has activated a break clause in its contract with the owners of Formula One, meaning the racing circuit will no longer host the UK's landmark motor sport event.
In a statement today, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) said 2019 will be the final year the British Grand Prix takes place at Silverstone unless the pair can reach a new arrangement over a promoter's fee paid to Liberty Media, which bought Formula One last year.
After 70 years hosting the event, Silverstone now attracts 350,000 spectators and 400m TV viewers to the British Grand Prix.
But the BRDC said it had made a net loss of £7.6m over the past two years thanks to a promoter's fee agreed with F1's previous owners in 2009, which increases five per cent a year, from £11.5m in 2010 to £16.2m in 2017. By 2026 it will have risen to £25m, the organisation added.
John Grant, the BRDC's chairman, said it was no longer financially viable to deliver the British Grand Prix under the terms of the contract.
"We have reached the tipping point where we can no longer let our passion for the sport rule our heads. It would not only risk the very future of Silverstone and the BRDC, but also the British motorsport community that depends on us," he said.
"However, I want to be clear that although we have now activated the break clause, we are fully supportive of the changes the Liberty team are making to improve the F1 experience. Our hope is that an agreement can still be reached, so that we can ensure a sustainable and financially viable future for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for many years to come."
Formula One said: "The week leading up to the British Grand Prix should be a week of great celebration for F1 and Silverstone. We deeply regret that Silverstone has chosen instead to use this week to posture and position themselves and invoke a break clause that will take effect in three years time.
"We offered to extend the current deadlines in order to focus on everything that is great about Silverstone and Formula 1. Regretfully the Silverstone management has chosen to look for a short term advantage to benefit their position. Our focus is still to preserve the British Grand Prix. We will carry on negotiating with the promoter in good faith and in private to reach a fair and equitable solution."