F1 'hopeful' of new deal with Silverstone

Formula One’s commercial boss Sean Bratches remains hopeful a new deal can be struck with Silverstone over the future of the British Grand Prix, but says a race on the streets of London remains the ideal scenario.

The future of the British Grand Prix has been uncertain ever since Silverstone activated a break clause last year that made the 2019 race the last of its current contract. The circuit has made clear that it wants to keep hosting the race but was not able to continue on the terms of its existing deal, which was originally due to run through to 2027 with escalating hosting fees each year.

Bratches recently delivered a warning to the circuit when he said “nothing is immutable in this sport in terms of where we race” in an official F1 press release, but the circuit has stood firm over its demands for lower sanctioning fees. Bratches says both sides are trying hard to agree on new terms but that little progress has been made in recent weeks.

“We are very hopeful,” Bratches said. “There has not been a lot of change in terms of the last time we spoke.

“We are having discussions and conversations around the business terms and both genuinely trying to get a deal done.

“Silverstone — it speaks for itself — it’s an extraordinary brand. It’s the home of the first grand prix.”

Speaking at the BRDC Awards on Monday, Silverstone’s managing director, Stuart Pringle, said the circuit had learned its lesson from the previous contract but reiterated that it could not host the race at any cost.

“We got ourselves into a pickle because we had a business that was solely financed by the grand prix,” Pringle was quoted by Crash.net. “So we had to diversify, and we’re doing that. We’re going to build a hotel, we’ve got Silverstone Experience opening, and we have some additional short-stay luxury accommodation. Aston Martin are now tenants on-site.

“Things are very much heading in the right direction, and it gives us the confidence to say Lord knows we want to keep the grand prix, but not at any price. We’re going to have a broader, more diverse business that can survive without it. But we’d much rather have one with it.”

Silverstone’s hand is strengthened by a lack of suitable venues elsewhere in the UK to host a British Grand Prix, but Bratches said a race on the streets of London would still be F1’s “ideal” scenario.

“We are having conversations with the mayor’s office and conversations with cities around the world,” Bratches added. “Certainly if there was an opportunity in London for us to race in the great streets here this would be an ideal circumstance — both for London and for Formula One fans around the world.”