Leaked letter casts doubt on British Grand Prix returning to Northamptonshire
The future of Grand Prix at Silverstone is in doubt after a leaked letter revealed fears that hosting the races would bring 'potentially ruinous costs' for the track's owners.
Northamptonshire could lose the Formula One event by the end of 2019 as the British Racing Driver’s Club (BRDC) - who own the Silverstone track - consider backing out of the “loss-making” event.
“What might be termed ‘the elephant in the room’, of course, continues to be the future of the British GP,” wrote John Grant, the BRDC chairman, in the leaked letter to his club’s members.
“We have to protect out club against the potentially ruinous risk of a couple of bad years.”
Although they are contracted to host the event until 2026, the letter reveals how the board of directors at BRDC are considering using a break clause to end hosting races by 2019.
“This is not a simple decision, and we will consider fully all the implications before coming to a conclusion by mid-year.”
BRDC declined to comment on the letter.
Silverstone attracted 139,000 fans in July 2016, who saw three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton claim the chequered flag in damp conditions.
Despite the continued success of Silverstone’s events, Grant reveals in his letter that, even in a good year, “the BGP does not generate enough cash to cover its share of the site overheads.”
Silverstone hosted the first F1 world championship in 1950 and has been the permanent home of the British Grand Prix since 1987.
In 2015 director of Silvestone Circuit, Patrick Allen told the Chron it was imperative the Northamptonshire venue remained on the F1 calender as other historic circuits in France and Germany had fallen off it in recent years.
But he admitted investment was necessary.
He said: “We need to smarten the place up a little bit more, give people a little bit more comfort, but really, more entertainment.”
Dermont Bambridge, South Northants councillor for Silverstone, said the Grand Prix would be a sad loss.
He said: “We in Silverstone like to think of ourselves as the best known village in the world because of the track and Formula One. It affects everything from jobs to house prices.
“We as a village would be very disappointed to lose the Grand Prix, but it is important that the circuit remains financially stable, so whatever happens that’s got to be the main concern.
“It would make a big difference here as there are thousands of jobs that rely on the Grand Prix, so anything that undermines that annual income would be a great shame.”