British Grand Prix future uncertain beyond 2019 as Silverstone activates break clause

The future of the British Grand Prix has been left uncertain after Silverstone’s owner confirmed it has activated a break clause to cease hosting the race after 2019.

Silverstone has been home to the race every year since 1987.

However, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), which owns the circuit, is struggling with the financial cost of hosting it.

It is believed it wants to renegotiate for more financially-viable terms.

Silverstone hosted the first ever Formula 1 race in 1950. Only Monza in Italy and Monaco have hosted more F1 races.

Analysis – is this the end of the British GP?

Lewis Hamilton has won the last three British GPs at Silverstone

BBC Sport’s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

Silverstone’s decision to end its contract to hold the British Grand Prix after 2019 does not necessarily mean there will not be a British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2020 and beyond.

If that sounds confusing, bear with me.

Silverstone signed a 17-year contract with former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone back in 2009 that meant it had to pay £12m for the race in 2010. But the deal had a 5% annual escalator built into it, and a break clause after 2019.

The fee has now gone up sufficiently that Silverstone cannot continue to hold the race and break even, let alone make a profit. So it felt it had no choice but to exercise the get-out clause, which contractually needed to be done before this year’s race.

But Silverstone still wants the British Grand Prix after that date, and Formula 1 still wants one, too. The rub, of course, is that the race does not necessarily have to be held at Silverstone.

A street race in London has been rumoured as a possible alternative to Silverstone

F1’s new chairman Chase Carey told BBC Sport this week that it is his “priority” for the event to stay at Silverstone but that there was “interest from other places, other UK options, that would have appeal”.

It’s not clear what these are, plural. But one of them is a much-rumoured potential street race somewhere in the east of London. Whether that is realistic is a different question.

For Silverstone to continue as host, F1 and the BRDC now have two years or so to try to hammer out a mutually satisfactory deal.

Realistically, this is the most likely option. But as Carey put it: “We are not there today.”

More to follow.