F1- Formula One will continue to explore the possibility of a London Grand Prix despite signing a new deal with Silverstone to host the British Grand Prix for the next five years.
After two years of intense negotiation, Silverstone signed a new deal with Formula One on Tuesday that will see it stay on the calendar until 2024. Just one month ago, Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle raised concerns about the threat a London Grand Prix might have on ticket sales for the British Grand Prix, but as part of the new agreement F1 is free to continue negotiations with London.
“We have interest from a lot of places and the discussions with London are ongoing,” F1 CEO Chase Carey said. “We look forward to continuing to have those discussions. It will be a different experience and we will see where they take us. But certainly in the short term our focus is here on Silverstone to make sure we continue to build on the new contract.”
Silverstone is owned by the British Racing Drivers’ Club and its chairman, John Grant, said the new contract has clauses to protect the financial interests of the British Grand Prix.
“We recognise Formula One’s desire to have destination city races and frankly if that brings a new audience to Formula One, I think in general that is a good thing,” Grant said. “We don’t oppose that and we certainly support the intent.
“Of course, we are concerned about the commercial threat to us of having a competitor event on our doorstep so to speak, and just 85 miles or so away. So we have had very frank discussions with our friends at Formula One about that and they understand those concerns, and it’s fair to say we have come up with some modus operandi — a set of agreements — that protect our interests to our satisfaction should that set of events ever become a reality.”
Pushed on what those agreements are, Grant added: “We are not going to get into any of our commercial arrangements, but we think there is room two races to coexist side by side as long as they have sufficient separation in time and as long as our commercial interests are recognised in some reasonably flexible way.”
Formula One has confirmed the British Grand Prix will remain at Silverstone until 2024, ending two years of speculation about the future of the race.
The new agreement was signed in London on Tuesday by Formula One and the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), which owns Silverstone.
The future of the race was thrown into doubt in 2017 when Silverstone exercised a break clause in its existing contract that meant 2019 would be the last race at the former RAF airfield. The BRDC argued that the original contract — agreed with former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and due to run until 2027 — was not financially viable for Silverstone after it made combined losses of £7.6m in 2015 and 2016.
By exercising its break clause, the BRDC brought F1’s new owners, Liberty Media, to the negotiating table and after two years of talks the new five-year deal was announced at Silverstone on Wednesday.
“We are really pleased to confirm that the British Grand Prix will stay on the FIA Formula One World Championship calendar for at least the next five years, with the event remaining at its longstanding home, Silverstone circuit,” F1 CEO Chase Carey said. “We have always said that, if it is to have a long-term future, our sport must preserve its historic venues, and Silverstone and Great Britain represent the cradle of this sport, its starting point back in 1950.
“Today, Formula One is a global sport, held on five continents, watched by an audience of 500 million fans around the world. Our aim is to grow this number by bringing the sport we love to new countries, while also maintaining its roots. Silverstone and the British Grand Prix are an integral part of that vision.”
With Silverstone secure, F1 will turn its attention to completing a new contract with the Italian Grand Prix after agreeing financial terms with The Automobile Club d’Italia earlier this year.
Contracts with the Spanish, German and Mexican Grands Prix are also due to expire at the end of the year, but new races in Vietnam and the Netherlands are already agreed as part of the 2020 calendar.