The British Grand Prix, a race steeped in history and one of only three events still on the Formula 1 calendar since Grand Prix racing began back in 1950, a true favourite amongst fans and drivers alike. It’s fair to say it’s been shared across a few race tracks such as Silverstone, Aintree and Brands Hatch; but since 1987, Silverstone has been the home for the historic race and has produced some memorable races over the years. Who can forget Lewis Hamilton’s dominating win in the wet in only his second season in 2008, or Nigel Mansell’s third and final win at his home Grand Prix in ‘92, which famously saw his way back to the pits blocked by the floods of British fans meeting him on the track.
The list goes on and on, however due to rising costs and a tight revenue, Silverstone could lose the right to host a British Grand Prix after 2017 and as a result, for the first time since its inception, the race may not appear on the Formula One calendar. Such threat hasn’t come to much surprise for any Formula 1 of the last decade though, as rumours surrounding the doubts of a British Grand Prix beyond its current contract have been constant.
Since the 17-year contract was signed back in 2010, a 5% annual escalator means that the British Racing Drivers’ Club will have to fork out near enough to £17 million this year and theoretically, by 2027 the race would cost up to £26 million. This has led to the BRDC (British Racing Drivers’ Club) consider activating a break clause in their contract.
The barebones of the issue is that the BRDC are losing vast amounts of money each year, despite the attendance of 140 thousand fans last year. The costs however are but a small comparison with Russia, which splash out a huge $50 million (£40.3) a year and also the new deal signed in Italy, which sets them back around $68 million (£58 million) per annum to hold the prestigious Italian Grand Prix at Monza, another track which has remained on the scene since 1950.
The Italian Grand Prix however have a great financial helping hand; something which the British Grand Prix is in dire need of; and that’s government funding. Every year Silverstone takes a big risk hosting the event, and hope that the amount of ticket sales alone can cover costs, as most other revenue streams are controlled by the people above in F1. Despite the Grand Prix being one of the most attended across the calendar, the lack of investment does no favours for the private investors who make up the BRDC as they reported net losses of up to £55.9 million in 2016. This blind-eye the government are taking to the Grand Prix will push the club to increase ticket prices to minimise costs and as a result, attendances will drop, revenue will fall, and ultimately they won’t be able to afford the ever increasing hosting costs.
The British Grand Prix is the only race on the calendar that doesn’t receive Government funding, and to be frank, it baffles me that they cannot see how much the British public loves this unique event. It pulls hundreds of thousands of people every year, nearly half of the teams on the grid are based near Silverstone, showcasing a rare example of motorsport industry in this country that’s actually world-leading. Without trying to get too political here but I can instantly suggest a better place where that trident money can go.
It’s important to put across thought that Formula 1 bosses are trying hard to keep the British Grand Prix going, and with the new boss in the shape of Chase Carey, CEO of Liberty Media, focused on keeping the heartland of the sport in tact, there is some optimism moving forward that the British Grand Prix will carry on rolling. I feel that if the British Grand Prix were to be axed, Formula One won’t be the same, new British drivers won’t be able to aspire to replicate their heroes like Mansell, Hill or Hamilton in winning their home Grand Prix, because there really isn’t anything like winning on home soil, and there really isn’t something, quite like, the British Grand Prix.
Do you think the Government should put funding into saving the British Grand Prix? Do you think it’s their job to ensure British sport is protected, or should an affluent sport such as Formula 1 look after itself? Let us know in the comments section below, or via Twitter @SpiceUKOnline