Silverstone's owners question British GP future

Thu Jan 5, 2017 8:11pm EST
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - The owners of Silverstone circuit have questioned the long-term future of the British Formula One Grand Prix because of the "potentially ruinous risk" posed by hosting fees.

Local media reported on Thursday the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) had informed all members in a letter last month it was giving serious thought to exercising a break clause.

"The board is considering whether we should give notice before the 2017 British GP (as required) of our intention to exercise the break clause in the contract at the end of 2019," wrote BRDC chairman John Grant.

"This is not a simple decision and we shall consider all the implications before coming to a conclusion by mid-year."

Silverstone, which hosted the first Formula One championship race in 1950, has a contract to 2026 with a break clause on both sides.

Grant's letter, which was shown on the website of television broadcaster ITV, said the board hoped to preserve the race at the circuit for years to come, providing it made commercial sense.

"We have to protect our club against the potentially ruinous risk of a couple of bad years," it added. "Without some change in the economic equation, the risk and return are out of kilter."

Last year's race drew some 139,000 fans, boosted by triple world champion Lewis Hamilton and McLaren's now-departed Jenson Button.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain takes a curve during the qualifying session of the British Grand Prix at the Silverstone Race circuit, central England, June 29, 2013. Hamilton stormed to pole position for his home British Formula One Grand Prix on Saturday with German team mate Nico Rosberg qualifying alongside him in an all-Mercedes front row. REUTERS/Chris Helgren     (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT MOTORSPORT F1) - RTX115W5