The F1 paddock arrived at Silverstone this week with uncertainty hanging over the track’s future.
The British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), who own the circuit, announced on Tuesday that it is exercising its right to opt out of their contract with Liberty Media Group after the 2019 race as the current deal is not financial viable.
It comes at a time when F1 is trying to break into new frontiers – like Azerbaijan and increasingly the United States – while Silverstone and the few other remaining ‘traditional’ tracks struggle to stay afloat.
The BRDC said in its announcement that the circuit lost $4.8 million by hosting last year’s event, which is staggering given that Silverstone is consistently packed full of spectators.
There are hints of posturing by the BRDC to get a better deal from Liberty Media Group but Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner, who is a member of the BRDC, has warned against complacency.
Formula 1 hosted a ‘F1 Live’ event in London on Wednesday featuring most teams, drivers and cars.
Horner said: “Liberty have made a commitment that there’ll be a British Grand Prix but with this London event happening, if that was a success – which hopefully it should be – with the recent legislation changes there have been in the City of London, you can imagine a London grand prix being pretty attractive to the Liberty guys.”
Silverstone Still Retains its Legendary Status
London may be commercially attractive but Silverstone still retains its place as one of the best Formula 1 circuits.
Starting life after the Second World War when the Royal Automobile Club linked the outer taxiways and interconnecting runways, it now pulsates with a knowledgeable and raucous crowd drawn to watch the Formula 1 cars navigate some of the most exciting and challenging corners on the calendar.
The technical Section 1 gives way to the high-speed corners in Sector 2 where the drivers look for a clean exit out of Turn 7 to push the throttle into the slight-right Turn 8 and through Corpse, which this year will be taken a full speed in the faster 2017 version of cars.
Daniel Ricciardo is relishing the prospect: “Copse will probably be full this year. That is already enough to get me excited.”
To see a modern Formula 1 car going ‘full’ through a near 90-degree corner is breathtaking. But possibly even better is the iconic Maggotts and Becketts combination that is a sight to behold for any spectator and a true challenge for the drivers where they mix aerodynamics with blind bravery.
It’s for this reason that Eric Boullier, McLaren’s Racing Director, has labelled the British Grand Prix as one of the “stand-out races” of the season.
“The Silverstone racetrack is the stuff of legends, with its infamous corners – Copse, Becketts, Stowe – and it’s a circuit that has tested many a champion and delighted fans with its epic racing.”
“It’s tough, too: high-speed, challenging, and very demanding on both the car and the driver – especially with the 2017 cars, which promise to look spectacular around this track.”
Will Hamilton Delight at Home?
Lewis Hamilton has made Silverstone a successful staging ground in recent years taking three consecutive wins.
The former champion will need a repeat of that performance to cut down the 20-point deficit to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
There was much anticipation following their collision in Azerbaijan, which Vettel accepted the blame, but they barely crossed paths last week in Austria after the Englishman started back in eighth.
Team boss at Mercedes, Toto Wolff, says that “Lewis is still right in the fight” for the title. The 129,000 spectators at Silverstone will no doubt be backing their local hero and savoring the prospect of Hamilton and Vettel battling it out for supremacy.