Silverstone boss "disappointed" by lack of progress on GP's future


They say that no news is good news, but in reality no news is no news.

While Formula One Management likes to do its negotiating away from the public spotlight, with just two weeks to go before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, there is still no official news on whether it will be the last.

While there have been numerous soundbites insisting how important Silverstone is to the sport, much talk of heritage and the fans (yawn), Silverstone MD, Stuart Pringle admits that there is still no deal in place and that he is "surprised and disappointed" by the lack of progress.

"I'm surprised and disappointed this isn't sorted already," he tells Autocar. "I don't want 130,000 people to turn up for the 2019 British Grand Prix and not know whether there will be another one."

Realising that the ever increasing hosting fees didn't make financial sense, in 2017 Silverstone's owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club, exercised a clause in their contract to end the 17-year deal. Since then, though there has been much rhetoric, there has been no agreement, certainly nothing that the BRDC is willing to accept at this time.

"We can survive without F1, we absolutely could," said Pringle. "To use a well-worn phrase, genuinely no deal is better than a bad deal because we know the consequences of a bad deal. It is paralysis to our business.

"I fully accept that we don't pay as much as 'Timbuctoo' or the latest place F1 has signed up," he added, an obvious reference to Vietnam which joins the schedule next year. "But Timbuctoo doesn't have a fan-base that year on year, come rain or shine, come British champion or not, turn up and pay their money.

"Silverstone is in effect a tax collector for F1," he continued. "The fans pay their ticket, the money washes through our company and we hand it across to F1. If everything adds up, we break even or make a small black number. If it doesn't it's a red number, we cover the difference and call it 'brand value' or something."

He was also keen to dismiss talk that the government should assist the circuit.

"Suggestions that government support should be there in Britain is nonsense because we've seen it with Turkey, India, Malaysia and they are no longer on the calendar," he said. "There's a reason why we've had a grand prix every year in this country since 1950 and that is the fee is paid by the enormous fan-base, and that is a strength, not a weakness.

"Silverstone is owned by the British Racing Drivers' Club, and there are 800 racing drivers and those who made their success possible, and they passionately want to keep their sport at the circuit. So my brief is to retain it, but don't break the company while doing so.

"I will be very disappointed if we are not able to announce something before or at this year's event, but if we can't it is because there is a monumental difference between us.

"I have always believed that we will retain it and even though we are in this extraordinary position I still believe the fundamental values that Silverstone adds to F1 will count," he concluded.

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Published: 01/07/2019
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