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British GP could leave Silverstone

NEWS STORY
07/11/2018

They say that 'no news is good news', whereas the reality is that 'no news is no news', certainly as far as British F1 fans are concerned.

Last year, days ahead of the British Grand Prix, just months after Liberty Media bought Formula One, organisers at Silverstone exercised a clause in their contract which meant that the 2019 event would be the last.

In the immediate aftermath there was much rhetoric, especially from the sport's new bosses who insisted that a solution would be found.

However, on the day that Vietnam is welcomed to the schedule, and with that one British Grand Prix still remaining, there is currently no solution in sight.

In a nutshell, the British Racing Drivers' Clun (BRDC) which owns Silverstone cannot afford the hosting fee, hence the decision to terminate the contract early, and should FOM offer a deal organisers at other circuits would be sure to want similar reductions.

At the same time, the new bosses at F1 have made no secret that while they acknowledge the value of traditional circuits, they want to see the sport taken into so-called destination cities, cities like Miami and Hanoi.

In an interview, issued by F1 ahead of this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix - one of only two races on the calendar that receive no government assistance - F1's commercial boss, Sean Bratches, has admitted that the future of F1 at Silverstone is in doubt.

"We're a 68-year-old entity and the nature of grand prix racing is that it is dynamic," he says. "Silverstone was the first grand prix, but we haven't raced at Silverstone all those 68 years. The race has been held at Brands Hatch and other venues.

"Nothing is immutable in this sport in terms of where we race," he continues. "We do value certain races highly and we do what we can to preserve racing there, but we are a business. We are a public company and we have a lot of stakeholders and shareholders and we're trying to marry what's best for fans with running a successful business."

In fact, since the first ever round of the Formula One World Championship, at Silverstone in 1950, the British Grand Prix has been held at just three circuits, the others being Aintree and Brands Hatch.

Though, under its previous management, an alternative was sought, Bernie Ecclestone doing an ill-fated deal with Donington, Silverstone remains the only circuit that could feasibly continue to host the event.

However, with an eye on those destination cities, FOM is clearly looking for an opportunity to hold a race in one of the world's most famous cities, one with an iconic backdrop that only a few years ago played host to The Olympics.

"We look at it in three ways," says Bratches. "Firstly, we want to preserve the heritage races, they are very important to Formula 1 and they are very important to fans. I'm talking about the Silverstones, the Spas, the Monzas of this world.

"Then we have a set of street races and hybrid street races, where we race in parks and on city streets, such as Melbourne, Montreal and Mexico City. The third segment features purpose-built facilities such as Shanghai, Austin, Texas and Bahrain. Beyond that we are looking to identify further street races, so this race (Vietnam) is a further step in terms of our vision."

"One of the things we have been intensely focused on is extending grand prix racing to iconic cities, in downtown areas, where we can best engage fans," he adds. "Most of our grands prix are currently half an hour to an hour outside cities, so the race in Hanoi fulfills of one of our preliminary goals, an iconic city hosting racing on a potentially thrilling street circuit. Vietnam's concept of what grand prix racing should be about matches our vision for the sport.

"We're the beneficiaries of interest from cities, states, countries, municipalities from around the world," he says, "and we have been taking a very cadenced approach in terms of how we go to market in terms of race promotion, choosing carefully so that potential races fit well with the existing structure we have and the direction in which we want to go in the future

"Historically Formula One has been very reactive in terms of people coming to them, but we have been more proactive, going to markets that we think are aligned with our brand values and which provide the opportunity to engage fans in new ways. A street circuit is a great way to do that. We have Monaco, Baku and Singapore and this is a great addition to that line-up."

A race on the streets of London has been talked about since the early 70s, yet other than a couple of promotional events nothing has come of it.

At a time F1 is facing stiff opposition taking to the streets of Miami, the chances of a Grand Prix on the streets of Britain's capital do not bear thinking about.

Intriguingly, though the future of the Grand Prix at Silverstone is under serious threat, Bratches still refers to it as one of the "heritage races", though we know from experience what importance the sport places on its heritage.

However, faced with the loss of live F1 TV coverage from next year, FOM might find that allowing the British Grand Prix - certainly on a "heritage" circuit - to drop from the calendar, is, from the point of view of British race fans, a step too far.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Anthony, 08/11/2018 16:36

"I’m very surprised to see Silverstone described by @ peter Rickitt as spectator unfriendly with viewing restricted to the corner that you are at. Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to watch Grand Prix at 7 other European circuits and the viewing from Becketts grandstand far exceeds what is available at any of the other circuits that I have visited. Additionally the access and parking at Silverstone is fantastic compared to, say, Spa, Hockenheim and the RedBullring!"

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2. Posted by FQITW, 08/11/2018 15:09

"@Peter Rickitt @ Fambank


I agree with everything you both say and bearing in mind Bernie’s greed (although he had offered to help Silverstone in the past but was snubbed by the BRDC)
the naivety and indecision of the BRDC and the mis-management by Silverstone themselves (witness the veto Porsche has on the type of events there and the infamous ‘Wing’), CVC’s brutal share of the profits, Liberty’s desire for digital money at all costs, the unlimited spending habits of the teams and all the super rich Grandees of the sport who could afford to help but only talk of heritage, this all points to one thing.

We need to lose the Grand Prix for everybody concerned or involved in it to actually realise what has been lost and what they have collectively done.

Whether they will hang their heads in shame is unfortunately highly unlikely.

Pity the poor fans, they take all the crap and get castigated for hoping someone will come along & rescue the situation not out of a sense of entitlement as some suggest but as they truly love the sport.
Anyone who has to convince his family that he needs the price of a small foreign holiday so they can spend a weekend at a race meeting will understand.

I would give, at maximum, a period of two years for the GP to come back or these people will find something else to interest them & spend their money on and then they will be LOST.

Lost for good.
"

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3. Posted by YuppieScum, 08/11/2018 14:34

"I really can't see Donington hosting F1, if for no other reason than the circuit is only a few hundred meters from the end of the runway of a busy international airport.

Not only would that negate having camera helicopters flying around the track, I wouldn't want to be the camera-man at the top of a crane-platform with the jet-wash of a big plane landing or taking off."

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4. Posted by @R1Racing71, 08/11/2018 14:14

"@ Motorsport-fan re Rockingham.
That doesn’t surprise me as I know both Circuit’s well. If this is confirmed then this is a real coup for Donnington – we should watch developments carefully.
"

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5. Posted by @R1Racing71, 08/11/2018 14:09

"Happy to concur with the majority of @Peter Rickitt’s comments. Where I will take issue, since the redevelopment works of 2010, the spectator facilities have been greatly improved – we no longer have to descend upon Club corner at stupid o clock to gain the only decent vantage point on the circuit, or take our wooden crates to stand on the old Woodcote banking in the hope we catch a glimpse. Transport is also available for those unlike me who don’t enjoy a perambulation around the old place, can gain easy access to the furthest points of the circuit – keeping their favourite slipshod just perfectly intact. And this service is included in your circuit admission price.

We should of course pay attention to Liberty, they choose their words, and their timing very carefully – BRDC take note.
While it pains me to envisage a calendar without Silverstone on it, I’m forced to accept that Liberty are in the entertainment industry and running a business.

MSV being conspicuously quiet, I can only assume they are preparing their battle plans to offer the only serious alternative. That is unless of course my beloved Mallory Park surprise us all.

@Mbarnez – you simply must do better.
"

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6. Posted by Mbarnez, 08/11/2018 13:36

"*Rickitt"

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7. Posted by Mbarnez, 08/11/2018 13:31

"@ Peter Rickett, what complete twaddle."

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8. Posted by English Tony, 08/11/2018 12:18

"I just wanted to point out that France, the birthplace of Grand Prix* motor racing, had no GP for many years & thus Silverstone /Britain has no automatic right to a GP

*c'est Francais..."

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9. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 08/11/2018 11:53

"Just a follow up to previous post, my understanding is MSV have bought all of those huge grandstands from Rockingham Motor Speedway, are they planned for Donington for the Moto GP / F1 future?"

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10. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 08/11/2018 11:49

"Have to agree with Peter Rickitt, cannot seeing it staying at Silverstone, as pointed out there would have to be a considerable fee reduction for this to happen and other circuits would clearly want the same.
Donington is the only other venue and being a new circuit to the calender, Jonathan Palmer could negotiate a fresh agreement that is viable and sustainable."

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11. Posted by Fambank, 08/11/2018 10:31

"A GP not held at "The home of motorsport" is a blasphemy. I could mention all kinds of compelling arguments for and against a race held at Silverstone, and with assumptions Liberty has shown so far regarding "what the fans want", but completely missing the mark, I would not be surprised if it was scrapped.

I would however point out one thing.

Attendance 340,000 (race weekend) 140,000 (race)

If this, is overlooked, dispite everything, then Liberty should sell F1 and go
stand in the "Silly corner""

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12. Posted by Peter Rickitt, 08/11/2018 0:21

"At last, a current decision-maker in F1 has publicly challenged the shibboleth of the so-called heritage right of Silverstone to host the British GP: always a spectator-unfriendly circuit with viewing restricted to the corner one is at and too large and laid-out to permit easy perambulation, a dust-bowl when dry and quagmire when wet, now emasculated and rendered unrecognisable by the movement of the start-line, let alone the ghastly and mind-blowingly costly Wing', changes luxoriated in by the egos of F1 grandees who continue to rabbit on about the need to preserve a heritage that has already, with their consent and promotion, been fundamentally changed and brought the BRDC to its financial knees,a profligacy which they expect the government or F1 owners of the day (be it Ecclestone or Liberty) to bale them out from - their just deserts from their actions have now come home to roost and the blame is at their door, behind which they will now no doubt gutlessly hide.
Whilst a London street circuit has obvious attractions, time, the green lobby and politics generally are against it, as would be the case of any other city,even Edinburgh.
This leaves just Brands and Donington as the most accessible and viewing-friendly locations (even I will accept that my beloved Oulton is not appropriate!), which brings us back to the silent man of Jonathan Palmer, whose knowledge of motorsport arithmetic and organisation is second to none ( although the now-retired Denis Carter would ably assist him) - but he has the quiet nous, so lacking in the BRDC and its grandees, not to get involved unless the risk/reward ratio is well in his favour: so come on Liberty, do a joint-venture arrangement with JP and keep the British GP, a JV arrangement not compromising the fees from other circuits and perhaps even being a template for others. "

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13. Posted by Ro, 07/11/2018 19:09

"He is such an AR*E !"

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