Silverstone activates 2019 break clause in British GP contract

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The future of the British Grand Prix is once again uncertain after Silverstone bosses confirmed they would activate the 2019 break clause in the contract.

The long-term future of the race had seemed secured when a new 17-year deal was signed with former CEO Bernie Ecclestone and redevelopments were undertaken in 2009, however, due to a five percent escalator in the hosting fee that was due to come into effect in two years, the decision has been taken to try and renegotiate.

And renegotiate appears to be the key word with circuit bosses hopeful a more cost-effective deal can be struck with new Formula 1 owners Liberty Media, who have previously said a race in the UK is integral to the sport.

“Looking back, the decision to sign this contract was made to preserve the British Grand Prix and ensure this great, historic race was not lost. This was the only deal on the table at the time and the decision was taken to keep the British Grand Prix alive," a statement read.

“But the reality is that for many years the British Grand Prix has made a net loss. Despite being the most popular weekend sporting event in the UK – with a live audience of over 350,000 attendees - the net revenue we receive is not enough to cover the Grand Prix's share of our overhead costs, let alone turn a profit.

“This situation is not sustainable – for the BRDC, but also for the British Grand Prix and Silverstone. We cannot continue to sell our core assets in order to fund the Grand Prix. Put simply, we've run out of road and have been left with no option but to trigger the break clause."
A major hurdle organisers have had in the last two decades is a lack of state funding for the event, something that almost all new races since 1999 have had and allowed Ecclestone to significantly increase the fees he could charge.
If a new deal between new F1 boss Chase Carey and Silverstone cannot be agreed, the only solution appears to be a potential street race in London, something that has long been mentioned as a dream.
However, should neither happen, then F1 could lose the race that began the current world championship in 1950 and as the statement concluded: "Losing the British Grand Prix would have a negative impact that is felt far beyond Formula 1 and Silverstone.
"The UK motorsport industry today is worth an estimated £10.5 billion - employing over 45,000 people and exporting over 75% of its output. That is larger than the equivalent sectors in Germany, Italy and France combined. Having the British Grand Prix at Silverstone – the biggest occasion on the motor racing calendar – serves as a focal point for so much of what is great about UK motorsports, and the wider engineering and manufacturing sectors.

“Seven out of the 10 F1 teams are based in the UK – many close to Silverstone. This brings vital jobs to the country, as well as having a positive impact on the local communities and economy. There's a good reason why the area around Silverstone is known as the Silicon Valley of motorsport'. Take away the British Grand Prix and this is all placed at risk."