The future of British Grand Prix on the Formula 1 calendar remains unresolved heading into this weekend’s race at Silverstone.

Thursday will mark two years since Silverstone confirmed it had activated a break clause in its contract to host the British Grand Prix, meaning this Sunday’s race would be the last if a new contract is not agreed.

It is an event which has a rich history in the sport, with Great Britain being an ever-present fixture on the F1 calendar since the world championship formed in 1950, while Silverstone has been the permanent home of the race since 1987.

Here is a breakdown of the key events so far…

11 July 2017: Break-clause triggered

In the week leading up to the 2017 British Grand Prix, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), owners of Silverstone circuit, triggered the break clause in the hope of negotiating a better deal, after their current 17-year contract, which was agreed with former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, included a hosting fee that would escalate from an original £11.5 million in 2010 to over £25 million by 2026.

Despite enjoying regular sell-out crowds and being one of the best attended events on the F1 calendar - with 140,000 fans attending on race day and 340,000 across the entire weekend last year - the BRDC felt it could no longer afford to keep the race going at a loss due to rising costs.

November 2018: F1 issues fresh warning

F1 commercial chief Sean Bratches issued Silverstone with a warning towards the end of last year, stressing the importance of business interests as he pointed out that F1 has not always raced at the Northamptonshire track.

“We’re a 68-year-old entity and the nature of grand prix racing is that it is dynamic,” Bratches said ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix in November.

“Silverstone was the first grand prix, but we haven’t raced at Silverstone all those 68 years. The race has been held at Brands Hatch and other venues.

“Nothing is immutable in this sport in terms of where we race. We do value certain races highly and we do what we can to preserve racing there, but we are a business.

“We are a public company and we have a lot of stakeholders and shareholders and we’re trying to marry what’s best for fans with running a successful business.”

The retaliation was bullish in nature from Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle, who insisted the circuit could flourish with or without F1 and would not be held to ransom in order to keep hosting the event.

December 2018 - June 2019: London GP talk steps up

Amid Silverstone’s uncertain future, Liberty Media has continued to pursue the idea of a grand prix on the streets of London. The prospect of an F1 race in the English capital has been little more than a pipe dream in recent years but in December it received a boost when London mayor Sadiq Khan said he considers a race to be realistic.

F1’s desire to hold a race in London did not sit well with Silverstone, with Pringle telling the BBC in June that the plan “significantly increases the risk” with its hopes of continuing to host the British Grand Prix.

Despite the concerns, Pringle insisted talks were ongoing between both F1 and Silverstone and was hopeful of finding a resolution.

A few months earlier during a press call in March, F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn admitted there was no certainty on the future of the British Grand Prix, but said there was room for two UK-based events on the calendar, adding: “London would be a different race than the British GP. It is a city race. There is a place for both.

"But I don't think it's feasible to have a London race in the middle of London, unfortunately - the chaos and impact it would have would be too severe - but on the periphery of London there are a number of areas that could work.

“I don't see it as it would necessarily replace the British GP; it would be the London GP.”

July 2019: Hamilton’s rally call

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton voiced his concerns over the future of the British Grand Prix in Austria, stressing that F1 cannot afford to turn its back on Silverstone and potentially risk losing the race altogether from the calendar.

Speaking in a feature set to be broadcast during Sky Sports F1’s coverage of the 2019 event, the Briton, who could take a record-breaking sixth victory at Silverstone this weekend, described the track as “the ultimate race circuit” and vowed to fight for its future.

"It feels to me 'not while I'm racing,'" Hamilton added. “Not while I'm here, I'll fight for it.

“This has the biggest crowd of the whole year, this has the biggest attendance of the season, and there's no way I would allow that to happen. We have to fight for it.”

And Hamilton does not find himself alone as the only driver praising Silverstone.

“A lot of great, fast corners is what we like and I can’t imagine the calendar without the British Grand Prix,” said Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who is among a number of drivers to express their concerns.

“I really enjoy Silverstone Circuit because of the high-speed corners, Becketts and Maggots being my favourite, and it’s great fun to drive.

“I also know it pretty well after racing there in F3 before F1. I love to see all the British fans camping and supporting us in the grandstands. There is always a big turnout and they are definitely some of the most passionate F1 fans in the world.”

What next?

A provisional F1 calendar for next year would currently see the British Grand Prix omitted for the first time in the sport’s history, but there is fresh optimism that a new deal is on the cards.

Silverstone’s long-running saga could be resolved as early as Wednesday, with reports suggesting a fresh deal will be announced ahead of the 10th round of the 2019 season.

According to The Independent, F1 and Silverstone have reached a financial agreement and are now on the finishing stretch of getting the final terms of the deal signed off and across the line. Watch this space…

 

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