Will Formula 1 swap Silverstone for the streets of London?

July 12, 2017



Will Formula 1 swap Silverstone for the streets of London?

July 12, 2017

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The British Grand Prix at Silverstone will be no more after 2019. Or so it seems.

The British Racing Driver’s Club (BRDC) who are responsible for managing the track at Silverstone decided to trigger a break clause in their contract with Formula 1’s owners, Liberty. The BRDC cited the increasing costs of hosting the event as their reason for leaving the contract. A fiver per cent escalator built into the original deal meant that what was a cost of £12m in 2010, has become £17m for 2017 and would have exceeded £27m by 2026.

A compromise between the two parties had been sought, but ultimately no agreement was reached. It has been reported that Liberty offered a series of options but the BRDC were left unsatisfied.

Red Bull Team Principal, Christian Horner, was critical of the BRDC. Horner pointed out the historic importance of Silverstone on the race calendar and added how 80% of Formula 1 teams are based in the UK, consequently increasing the importance of having a race based in Britain.

However, it may not definitely be the end of a British Grand Prix. Silverstone will try to negotiate a new deal with Liberty to host a race after 2019. When the current contract was agreed, the BRDC was under different management who have since left the organisation. The previous cohort are being apportioned some blame for the current situation, with them being held partly responsible for the increase in costs which has made the Grand Prix unprofitable.

A city race in London for formula 1?

Brands Hatch or Donington could host a race if Silverstone fail to renegotiate. But the most exciting prospect currently being touted is that of a city race in London.

In April 2017, new laws were passed making it possible for more street races in the UK. The Motor Sports Association, who govern motor sport in the UK, will now be authorised to issue race permits once they have satisfied councils, police and other local bodies that the events would be safe. Local authorities will have the final say over whether a race can take place.

It is believed that new owners Liberty would be excited at the prospect of a road race in London. Today they are hosting a Formula 1 Live event in Trafalgar Square in the run up to Sunday’s race. The event will feature Formula 1 teams and their star drivers alongside music acts. If this event is a success, Liberty may further push for a race on the streets of the capital, with the Docklands area being proposed as a potential area to host the race.

However, it may not be so easy. Firstly, there is the stumbling block of who would fund the race.

Secondly, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said that City Hall would only support an event if Formula 1 teams achieved a significant reduction in the air pollution of their vehicles.

In addition, Westminster council have said that it would not consider hosting an on-road event. They cited concerns for the impact on businesses and buildings of important historical significance.

So there are currently a few obstacles in the way of a city race in London, but never say never. This weekend’s British Grand Prix will still go ahead with Briton Lewis Hamilton needing a large slice of luck if he is to overtake Sebastian Vettel twenty-point lead in the driver’s championship.

Written by Mike Slater

Mike Slater