The British Racing Drivers' Club, owners of Silverstone Circuit, have confirmed it is triggering the break clause in its F1 contract to host the British Grand Prix putting the historic race at major risk.

The BRDC had until this week to decide whether to continue its long-term contract - intended to last until 2026 - or whether to begin proceedings to exit the deal early, having previously indicated it can't meet the terms of its deal.

The announcement means the 2019 British Grand Prix will be the last unless a new deal is sought.

The root of the BRDC's problems stem from the original 17 year deal agreed between itself and Bernie Ecclestone's FOM in 2009, which would see an incremental increase on the hosting fee of 5 per cent.

It meant that despite the British Grand Prix proving one of the year's best attended events - with 130,000 revellers arriving on race day in 2016 - it has sustained increasing losses from the growing outgoings coupled with inflation.

As such, with a clause break available at this stage in the contract the decision has been taken to begin proceedings to end the contract 7 years early in 2019 than risk greater losses to 2026, which the BRDC says will put the venue itself under threat.

"It is with regret that I am today announcing that the British Racing Drivers' Club, the owners of the Silverstone Circuit, has triggered the break clause in its contract with Formula 1, now owned and managed by Liberty Media," said BRDC Chairman John Grant.

"This means that, unless a new contractual arrangement can be reached with Liberty Media, 2019 will be the last year that the British Grand Prix takes place at Silverstone - the only viable venue for a British GP.

"This decision has been an extremely difficult one for us to take. The BRDC is at the heart of British motor racing and we have been promoting the interests of our sport and its fans for generations. We've been the custodians of Silverstone for almost 70 years and have nurtured the British Grand Prix into one of the world's great sporting occasions. The BRDC has also invested ?50m over the last 10 years to improve facilities here at Silverstone.

"However, we have reached the tipping point where we can no longer let our passion for the sport rule our heads. Put simply, it is no longer financially viable for us to deliver the British Grand Prix under the terms of our current contract.

"By running the British Grand Prix we sustained net losses of ?2.8m in 2015 and ?4.8m in 2016 - that's ?7.6 million over two years. We expect to lose a similar amount this year. To continue on this path is not only unsustainable, it would put at risk Silverstone, the home of British motor racing."

The decision will be seen as new F1 owners Liberty Media's first major test regarding deals with venues.

Though Silverstone has been vocal about its desire to renegotiate its terms, Liberty Media has been coy about the prospect of agreeing a new deal through fear it will set precedent for others to do something similar.

On the other hand, F1 chairman Chase Carey says he doesn't want to lose one of the sport's most iconic venues leaving scope for a rescue deal to be organised in the meantime.

 

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