F1 accuses Silverstone of ‘posturing' over future of British Grand Prix
Chase Carey, the chairman and chief executive of Formula 1, has hit out at UK motor racing circuit Silverstone, accusing it of announcing its decision to activate the break clause in its hosting contract for the British Grand Prix before engaging in discussions over its future.
Carey (pictured right) who was appointed by Formula 1’s new owners Liberty Media following its $8-billion takeover of the series in January, told the UK’s Daily Telegraph, that he would have preferred the British Racing Drivers’ Club, which owns Silverstone, “to have a quiet conversation” about “ways to go forward” instead of "message planting and positioning."
On Tuesday, John Grant, the chairman of the BRDC, made the highly anticipated announcement that Silverstone would cease to host the British Grand Prix after 2019 if a new deal cannot be reached with Liberty.
Explaining the move, Grant said: “This decision has been taken because it is not financially viable for us to deliver the British Grand Prix under the terms of our current contract. We sustained losses of £2.8m ($3.6 million) in 2015 and £4.8m in 2016, and we expect to lose a similar amount this year.
“We have reached the tipping point where we can no longer let our passion for the sport rule our heads. It would not only risk the very future of Silverstone and the BRDC, but also the British motorsport community that depends on us.”
In response to the decision, Formula 1 told the UK’s Times newspaper: “The week leading up to the British Grand Prix, should be a week of great celebration for F1 and Silverstone. We deeply regret that Silverstone has chosen instead to use this week to posture and position themselves and invoke a break clause that will take effect in three years’ time.
“Regretfully the Silverstone management has chosen to look for a short-term advantage to benefit their position.”
The cost of staging Formula 1 races has risen significantly over the past two decades, and Silverstone's fees were contracted to rise 5 per cent per year over the course of its 17-year contract, from £12 million in 2010 to £26 million by 2026.
Grant has said the BRDC is open to negotiating a new hosting fee with Liberty but Carey told the Daily Telegraph that a reduction is unlikely.
He said: “We are not a soft touch. We are not renegotiating deals. These agreements were reached fairly between adult organisations, but we want to support the event in the best way we can.”
This year’s British Grand Prix takes place on Sunday.