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Silverstone to announce long term deal to host British GP
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Silverstone to announce long term deal to host British GP
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Dec 2009   |  11:17 am GMT  |  99 comments

Silverstone is hosting a press conference in London this morning, with BRDC president Damon Hill due to announce that a deal has been struck with Bernie Ecclestone for the race to stay at the Northamptonshire track until 2026.

The deal has a break clause after 10 years.

The olive branch offered by Ecclestone, which swung the deal as far as Silverstone was concerned, was a reduction in the compound interest due on the deal each year, which will save Silverstone a significant amount of money. The starting fee to host the race is £12 million for 2010, rising to £16.8 million in 2015.

It appears that quietly in the background, new FIA president Jean Todt has been influential in persuading Ecclestone that the British Grand Prix is an important event on the calendar and must be saved. On that basis, he will no doubt also be pushing for a return of the French Grand Prix as soon as possible.

The deal has taken a long time to be finalised and this has largely been on Silverstone’s side as they have been extremely cautious about making sure the numbers add up. Despite a large turnover, the profit margins are small on Silverstone, just £650,000 last year.

“It has been a long and tiring nonsense,” Ecclestone said. “They could have done this whole thing months and months and months and months ago.”

One solution to raise the income is to open the Grand Prix to more people, but Silverstone has a self imposed limit for health and safety reasons and has ruled out that possibility.

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1

Great news. Been busy reading your book James, the Donnington Park quote made me laugh, Abu Dhabi this ain’t.

2

…And it still ain’t! Thanks

3

I think 6,500 tickets sold in 24 hours after the announcement was made says it all about Britains love for motorsport, thats almost the same number as total tickets sold for the Chinese and Turkish 2009 GPs combined!

4

James – what do you make of the planned updates to the circuit with the arena complex? I am quite excited by it as they add a little more variety to the circuit – even if we lose the spectacle of the cars coming through Bridge.

However I am in two minds about the decision to move the start finish between Club and Abbey. Whilst I like the idea of Silverstone getting a brand new, world class paddock and press area – Copse corner has always been my favourite first corner of any GP circuit. To have it as a corner mid way around the track will somewhat detract the focus from it.

Do you know if they are still planning on making Club a banked corner as was part of the plans when this upgrade was originally proposed 8 years ago?

5
Paige Michael-Shetley

Sorry mate, but I have to disagree on the circuit updates.

In my view, if you take any one of Copse, the Becketts complex, Stowe, or Bridge away from Silverstone, you have made it a lot less special.

I agree on the movement of the start/finish line, but for a different reason. One of the great visual memories of F1 as long as I’ve been a fan that I will always cherish is that of Hamilton coming through Luffield on the final lap in 2008 to cap off an unbelievable wet win, with all the British fans going crazy in their silver attire and waving their Union Jacks. There’s just something about that image with that particular corner which says to me, “This is how a grand prix should end.”

6

The proposed new press and pits won’t do anything for either the racing or the fans other than costing them more.

What makes Silverstone the best Grand Prix is the level of support from in the main real F1 fans, surely the most knowledgeable crowd in F1.

The atmosphere is simply electric as is so don’t let all this talk of padlock and press area fool us into thinking that it’s being done for us as it isn’t.

Give us more eating and refreshment facilities, more toilets and value for money tickets, that’s what the fans want and that is what the TV stations would also want as it would guarantee a full house unlike the various money tracks Ecclestone had saddled us with.

Whatever Silverstone do I hope they remember that at the end of the day it’s the racing that matters and not all the tat Ecclestone is insisting on, long live the racing ❗ 😉

7

I beg to differ. The new press and pits area may not offer any immediate gain for fans visiting the circuit – however only 100,000 people attend the race – that is only 1% of the audience in the UK, let alone the world. Improved press and pit facilities will better equip those reporting; for example, one of the highlights of the BBC coverage this year has been the Red Button forum after the race. It is clear that on the races with better facilities they have been able to provide more information more quickly.

However, even for the 100,000 people who attend the race (whom I am one of) – you cannot say this is of no benefit to them because without the promise of updated facilities it is quite possible that the contract would never have been signed.

Whilst Ecclestone’s motives often contradict what hardcore fans sometimes want to see, it is important to remember that the sport does need revenue to exist. Whilst it is true that it would exist if the global expansion Ecclestone has spearheaded had not taken place, it would not have existed as the clear pinnacle of motorsport.

Today, Formula 1 is lightyears ahead of any other motorsport, and arguably any other sport. After the World Cup and the Olympic Games, Formula One is the biggest sporting event and unlike those two it is a yearly event.

The total capacity of every race circuit in the calendar added together is less than 2 million. Over 150 million people watch Formula 1 on TV.

If it were not for these numbers then the teams would not be able to attract so much sponsorship, and without the financial investment the sport would not be in such rude health. People may point to several manufacturers pulling out, however even with these withdrawals there are still more teams wanting to take part then there are grid slots.

What I am trying to make the point of is that you can’t have it all one way. If Formula One had not expanded in the way it had done then another sport would have come along and usurped it as the pinnacle of motor racing. Bernie’s strategy – no matter how at odds it may play against tradition – is a necessary evil.

And don’t take this to think that I am a fan of his – had the British GP not appeared on the calendar my response would not have been printable.

8

With the new Moto GP layout announced is that what is going be used for the F1? If so does that mean no more seeing the cars up close through Bridge???

9

Quote Bernie from PlanetF1 “I didn’t have any special sentiment because it was Britain, but if people think I helped then that’s nice.”

Nice to know you fooled us again then Bernie! For a moment there we thought you had a heart.

10

Now now don’t be silly 🙂

11

I always say the best place to watch the British Grand Prix from – Is in front of the 52″ plasma in the front room. It’s cheaper…

12

Does anyone kn ow if Silverstone will be allowed to make ANY money other then through ticket sales, i.e on-site activities and sales etc or, as I fear, all this will end up in Ecclestones coffers ❓

13

James, Bernie has for years complained about the facilities at Silverstone. With this new investment group on board with the BRDC, will the circuit be seeing an upgrade soon and was this part of Bernie’s thinking in negotiating this deal?

14

It’s always been part of the plan. Silverstone needed some security in order to invest

15

Hi James,

Great news, it was unthinkable that we might have been derprived of an F1 race in the UK.

What do you think of the proposed track layout changes for 2010?

16

Very pleased that the British GP is saved and has a future. And I really like Silverstone as a track and a facility.

Just hope that the track’s customer service for customers wanting to purchase tickets improves … it was an insult of “Gas Board” proportions on my last experience.

17

I’m glad to see the race stay at silverstone. It’s a great venue other than getting in and out.

Some great weekends I’ve enjoyed there over the years (not including the year I we got stuck in the carpark for hours and I managed to slam the car boot shut on my sisters hand).

Well done to brdc for sticking to their prudent approach and not overstretching financially. Now they have a long term deal it will be easier to raise funding for the improvements.

I get the feeling bernie sometimes forgets that along with his stewardship of f1, what made it great was the famous tracks!

18

This is great news for Formula One! Silverstone is a very important historical circuit for the series, as it was the location of the first Formula One World Championship. Personally, I think that Formula One without Silverstone is like the IndyCar Series without Indianapolis.

On a side note, I received my book last Wednesday. I’m in California, so I couldn’t believe how quick the shipping was. Thanks for publishing a piece of history, James!

19

James, i have never been to Silverstone before but a want to go next year to see Jenson and Lewis in action, where do you recommend i get tickets for the best view of the action?

20

Anywhere you can! The pits straight is pretty good for an all round view, especially the Woodcote view as you can see the complex, plus Copse, plus the giant screen. I put my father in law there two years ago and he’s never been to a race and he loved it. I think it was Woodcote B

21

Oh yes, about as gracious as Arsene Wenger!

22

James (or anyone else for that matter), where would you say is the best place to watch the action from at Silverstone?

I’ve been a couple of times before and sat in the stands at Luffield, Club, the pit straight and Copse but wondered if there was one part of the circuit that stood out above the others.

Thanks.

23

Becketts is amazing, but you can only stand it for a while.

24

The atmosphere around the Copse area and pit straight in 2008 was amazing when Hamilton drove superbly in the wet to win an electrifying race.

25

Like how Bernie gets the last word in even if he gave in, must be quite a mischeivious and fun guy !

26

Surely the only people that had ‘months and months and months and months’ to get things done were at Donington

27

so what is the actual escalator on this, and will it continue to apply year on year over the whole deal (assuming the release isn’t triggered early)? i thought that was the sticking point for silverstone as they wouldn’t be able to pay the future hosting fees without increasing the already ludicrous ticket prices.

28

“a reduction in the compound interest due on the deal each year” Is this in fact the annual fee increment or is it the interest on the capital borrowed?

A 5% profit (Nett I hope) is not too bad, most of the motor industry survives on less. However the cost of entry is already ridiculously high and will need to rise in order to keep up with the rise in fixed costs since Mr Brown has lit the fuse on an inflation bomb and will be safely out of office when it explodes. Apart from this the annual “Bernie fee” indexation will impose double price increases to the punters. How much was it Bernie paid for the rights again and his Return On Investment must be in the millions of percent now.

Quite frankly unless Silverstone has a rich uncle I cannot see how it can possibly survive financially. Attendance will fall as the cost of entry rises. (The demand/supply curve may be elastic but it will only stretch so far. Then we are into the well known demand bathtub curve)

I am surprised that the deal was done at all.

29

Sadly I fear you may well be proved right. The gate prices for 2010 are already way too high and has put the Grand Prix out of the reach or many.

If the figures are published by Silverstone are correct and they did in fact make a tiny profit on their huge turnover they have entered dangerous waters indeed.

One bad year and 🙁

30

So much for offering the fans a cheaper way to see motorsport at Silverstone – with fees increasing to £16.5 who do you think is going to pay for that? Yes you’ve guessed US the fans

31

Brilliant.

But we won’t be making the trip to Silverstone or Spa next year. Most Definitely 2011 though, if the Iceman is back!

32

Brilliant!!! It will be intersting to see if they get homologation for the new arena track setup and whether or not it will be an improvenment.

Hats off to the BRDC for sticking at it whilst also attracting moto gp.

33

Good show!

But how did they arrive at 17 years?? Thats an odd number if I ever saw one.

34

Well it was the number Donington had signed up to

35

The track at Silverstone may also change for Formula One according to the BBC –

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8397777.stm

It has to get approved from the FIA first but what part of the track will be lost if they decide to add the Moto GP part of the track into the F1 race?

36

James,

Do you know if the asking price had come down for Silverstone due to the economic downturn?

If so, then not signing the contract last year and the whole Donnington saga was a blessing in disguise for Silverstone.

37

No.

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