Good News For Formula 1 Fans As The British Grand Prix Is Saved—Silverstone Signs New Deal Running To 2024
There’s been good news for Formula 1 fans that the uncertainty over the future of the popular British Grand Prix has just been ended. Its current host circuit Silverstone has agreed a new deal with F1 to keep the British round on the calendar until 2024.
The race had been thrown into doubt by Silverstone’s bosses in mid-2017 activating a break clause in its existing contract, meaning that without a fresh deal this weekend’s British race would have been the last for the foreseeable future. The previous deal had been agreed with former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone in 2009 and had been due to run to 2026 prior to the break activation. Silverstone said that the contract was financially unsustainable, even with the race attracting record crowds. The terms included a 5% escalator fee, something common in Ecclestone’s deals, which would have taken the hosting fee Silverstone paid each year to host the race from £11.5million at the start of the agreement to up to £26million by the end.
The addition of new races in the Netherlands and Vietnam onto next year’s calendar, and resistance of F1 teams to increasing the overall number of races, raised further doubts about Silverstone’s future, as did Liberty’s expressed interest in holding a race in Greater London. John Grant, chairman of Silverstone circuit owner the British Racing Drivers’ Club, said the new deal includes a “set of arrangements, that protect our interests to our satisfaction should that London event ever actually become a reality.” Grant added that the deal provides stability to invest a further £100million into the circuit and its facilities.
Losing the British round would have been a major shift. There has been a British Grand Prix on the F1 world championship calendar every year since its inception, and 52 of the 69 British Grands Prix have been held at Silverstone. Silverstone also hosted the first ever F1 world championship grand prix in 1950. In addition, seven of the 10 F1 teams are based near the Silverstone circuit, meaning the British round is viewed widely as F1’s ‘home race’, plus as noted the crowds at recent British Grands Prix have been excellent, with it hitting the highest weekend and race day attendances of any round last year: 340,000 and 140,500 respectively. Red Bull boss Christian Horner called losing the British round, and particularly losing Silverstone, “disastrous”.
The deal’s agreement is indicative also of F1’s changing financial landscape. Hosting fees paid by venues had become a major F1 revenue stream, but this now has lower viability and less costly host deals are likely to become the norm. F1’s new owner Liberty Media appears to be seeking to make up the shortfall by increasing the number of races on the calendar as well as trying to limit F1’s costs. It also has spoken of the need to protect more traditional ‘prestige’ venues which often are close to F1’s core and long-established audience. A French race at Paul Ricard returned to F1 last year while as mentioned a Dutch round at Zandvoort is back next year. The contracts for the Spanish and German rounds however are set to expire in 2020.
Images courtesy of Octane Photography