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Stewart calls on government to save British Grand Prix

NEWS STORY
05/07/2017

We can't remember when we first came up with the term Planet Paddock but somehow that description of the strange little land populated by beings seemingly totally out of touch with the real world has never seemed so apt.

At a time the British Prime Minister is essentially having to pay a billion pounds to keep her job, when the country is in turmoil as it seeks to find favourable terms for its exit from the European Union (or not), when the police, NHS, local government, the armed forces (such as they are) and who knows who else are struggling to maintain some semblance of service in the face of austerity, Sir Jackie Stewart is calling on the UK government to come to the aid of the British Grand Prix.

Having agreed to a deal which appeared perfectly fine, until it read the little bit in the small print regarding an annual 5% increment, the British Racing Drivers' Club, which owns Silverstone, has finally come to realise that it is, as chairman John Grant so eloquently put it, facing a "potentially ruinous risk".

Consequently, the BRDC has a matter of days before deciding whether it will trigger a clause in its contract that will terminate it after the 2019 race, as opposed to letting it run until 2026 and thereby face said risk of ruin.

Talking to the Grand Prix Show on talkSPORT2, the three-time world champion called on the government to step in.

"In this country we are the capital of motorsport technology," he said. "My information, supplied by the authorities, is that 143,000 people are employed in the British motorsports industry in the United Kingdom. That means there is a high technology labour bloc which is valuable to the United Kingdom because about 80 per cent of it is exported. That means we have a tremendous contribution to make to the country.

"Many other sports are given some assistance to be able to bring medals home," he continued. "The British GP has never been able to get the government, and that's been several governments, to support it. If there is a gap between the Liberty Media contract and the affordability for the British Racing Drivers' Club and Silverstone, then I think we have to find a way for government support to happen.

"Other sports don't have an industry behind them as powerful, and lucrative, to the nation as the British GP has through the technology which Britain leads the world in," he insisted. "The Mercedes Silver Arrows are not manufactured in Stuttgart. The car is manufactured in Brackley and so is the engine. It's an entirely British operation and it's the great German team who are taking the benefit of that on a global basis.

"We cannot afford to lose the British GP," he warned. "I fought very hard to keep it, and Bernie Ecclestone did make concessions, but it was still a very large amount of money for a private members club to afford. It's the only private members club in the world who has a grand prix circuit being raced on since 1950, and that's when the first grand prix was ever held. The first world championship was held at Silverstone in 1950 and we have not missed a year since and Britain has contributed enormously to the world of motorsport because of how well we've done over those years, both with drivers and also the technology of the cars."

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1. Posted by mickl, 06/07/2017 14:15

"In effect all the deals made by the venue owners are to ALLOW Formula 1 to use their facilities without FOM having to pay a cent. FOM gets even more that just hosting fees in return by keeping all the trackside advertising revenue and the paddock club revenue.

It is a rip off of a deal and hands off to Bernie for pulling it all off in the first place but it will come to a point where Liberty will have a light bulb go off in their heads.....no circuits to run on equals no grand prix...."

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2. Posted by Chris Balfe (editor), 06/07/2017 9:36

"@ VC10-1103

Let's not forget that it's not even really the "government's money", the government makes its money from the people in the numrous taxes it improses from cradle to grave."

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3. Posted by VC10-1103, 06/07/2017 9:31

"I would have possibly agreed with government support if this was the early 1970's when most of the F1 teams were cottage industries, but now they are multi-million pound industries in their own right. There is too much money from F1 lining individuals pockets to warrant government support.

I don't know for sure, but the 'government' money other sports get, isn't some of it lottery money? Anyway I bet these other sports would dream of getting the budget that is available to just ONE middle ranking F1 team.

alfsboy makes a good point about this suggestion coming from an UK national that has lived in Switzerland since the '70 for tax reasons - after making his money from F1 and related advertising."

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4. Posted by GrahamG, 06/07/2017 7:44

"There is no way that GB should sign up to the "government cash" addiction of F1. If no GP in the UK, unfortunate but not the end of the world. F1 and its owners will be the ones who loose in the end as audiences drop further and UK based sponsors fade away"

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5. Posted by Italian Job, 05/07/2017 22:02

"Jackie Stewart is a 3x World Campion. After retiring from driving he had the nous to make a fortune from his connections (Rolex and Ford come to mind). Unfortunately I think he has now lost that nous.
If BRDC want money to allow them to continue with a contract that they cannot afford (despite people having read it again and again before signing) then they MUST first go to their wealthier members and ask them for support before asking HMG to subsidise their collective ego. Yes, it would be a pity to no longer have a British Grand Prix, but it’s a BRDC own goal. "

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6. Posted by Ro, 05/07/2017 22:00

"Hang on, the figures just dont add up...Silverstone pays 20m to whom, for what? Liberty takes it all. Sky pay Liberty....so Silverstone relies on entrance tickets and merchandise sales. Not a good deal. I cant Blame the BRDC at all. There would be no point in carrying on hosting F1 races because there is just no money in it and no profit for the Circuits at all. The Government SHOULDNT pay for the sport, The money should be going to the needy. The way F1 is now, it will die a death once SKY has all the rights and there is no terrestial free-to-view, so Liberty needs to rethink the whole structure otherwise they will just be holding their pants up..."

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7. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 05/07/2017 19:59

"I can see where Sir Jackie is coming from when he points out that other sports get handouts from the state yet F1 does not (in Britain).
Here in NZ, the private America's Cup team just got $5m over 4 years to "keep the team together".
Meanwhile we have similar restrictions on spending on our socialised medical system, the NHS isn't unique with its issues.
There is a push here to get a WRC round back here and I don't know if the state will pony up to help that bid however I'm not holding my breath. Last time Motorsport NZ wanted to conduct some research and asked for a $36K grant and got turned down while the boaties got $35M. Then again A1GP did get help, I think $2M.

The problem with welfare (in this case corporate welfare) is that as soon as one outfit gets a hand out, the government usually has to justify not granting a handout to some other organisation. Some sports are more worthy than others.

What should happen in times of austerity is that all sports get a haircut.

I wonder what would happen in the UK if government said something like: "The British GP has asked for support and we aren't going to do that due to austerity etc., however, while looking into this request we realised there is a @#$ load of other sports getting money. This isn't fair on the BRDC so we've decided to cut all government spending on sport. We need that money for the NHS."

I'm thinking that the other welfare rule will come into play: Once someone or something gets a handout, it is just about impossible to stop it.

Sir Jackie has a point. Other sports are getting a handout (remember the Olympics in 2012?) so why not F1, especially considering how big motor sport is in the UK.
In my view, no sports should get a handout. If the sports are so good and bring in such a social and economic return then they should not need public funding.
"

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8. Posted by yakker, 05/07/2017 19:49

"There is millions of pounds swilling around in F1, why should the taxpayer subsidise an already wealthy sport? The jobs in motorsport will not diminish if the British GP does not happen. Ask Bernie to put some money back into the sport."

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9. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 05/07/2017 18:43

"Always read the small print - twice - then read it all again......."

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10. Posted by F1Doppelganger, 05/07/2017 14:41

"I normally find that Jackie Stewart talks a lot of common sense and value his views. I disagree on this though. Government support may be appropriate for the upkeep of the circuit to FIA standards and the support of employment. But F1 is a cash rich business and the race hosting fee is entirely part of the commercial side with huge amounts going into private pockets. Government support to pay the race hosting fee is therefore not appropriate."

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11. Posted by alfsboy, 05/07/2017 14:17

"This coming from a tax exile living in Switzerland .Save it yourself Jackie .You and your mates made a lot of money from British motorsport over the years.Cough up those Ford millions for us now and earn yer knighthood."

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