07:07 GMT +314 November 2019
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    Silverstone Pulls the Plug on British Grand Prix in Row Over Money

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    There may be no British Grand Prix in 2019 after the Silverstone racetrack pulled out in a row over money. But Formula 1 bosses may instead opt for a street race like the Monte Carlo Grand Prix.

    The British Grand Prix is taking place at Silverstone in Northamptonshire this weekend, but the track's owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BDRC), triggered a break clause in their contract with Formula 1 on Tuesday (July 11).

    ​It means that next year's race will be last held at the circuit, which first hosted the race in 1948.

    The British Grand Prix at Silverstone is the best attended race in the world with 350,000 live spectators and 400 million watching on television.

    The track, with its famous Copse Corner and Hangar Straight, is one of the most historic in Formula 1 and has hosted the race every year since 1987, when it took back the honor from Brands Hatch.

    But a row over money has put a black cloud over the future of the race.

    BDRC has to pay a large sum of money to Liberty Media, who own the Formula 1 brand, for the privilege of hosting the race.

    Last year Liberty, a US corporation, bought Formula 1 from Bernie Ecclestone for US$4.4bn (£3.3bn).

    ​John Grant, chairman of BDRC, explained the decision on Tuesday in a statement on the Silverstone website.

    "This decision has been taken because it is not financially viable for us to deliver the British Grand Prix under the terms of our current contract.

    "We sustained losses of £2.8m [US$3.6m] in 2015 and £4.8m [US$6.2] in 2016, and we expect to lose a similar amount this year. We have reached the tipping point where we can no longer let our passion for the sport rule our heads. It would not only risk the very future of Silverstone and the BRDC, but also the British motorsport community that depends on us," he added.

    Last week the Reuters news agency reported Silverstone had rejected an offer from F1 to take over the race for five years, absorbing annual losses of up to £3 million (US$3.86 million).

    F1 chairman Chase Carey has said he regarded a British Grand Prix as "critically important" to the motor racing franchise.

    BDRC was also keen to keep the door open to further negotiations.

    ​"I want to be clear that although we have now activated the break clause, we are fully supportive of the changes the Liberty team are making to improve the F1 experience," said Mr. Grant.

    "Our hope is that an agreement can still be reached, so that we can ensure a sustainable and financially viable future for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for many years to come," he added.

    "Losing the British Grand Prix would have a negative impact that is felt far beyond Formula 1 and Silverstone. The UK motorsport industry today is worth an estimated £10.5 billion [US$13.5 billion] — employing over 45,000 people and exporting over 75% of its output," said John Grant.    

    BDRC signed a 17-year deal with Formula 1 in 2010, which means the cost of hosting the event would rise to £26 million (US$33 million) by 2027. June 16 was the deadline for them to activate the break clause in the contract.

    British Formula One Grand Prix
    © AFP 2019 / Adrian Dennis
    British Formula One Grand Prix

    There have been reports that Formula 1 bosses might now consider a race through the streets of London, possibly the Docklands area, starting and finishing at Tower Bridge.

    In recent years Formula 1 has shut up shop in some traditional grand prix venues and taken the franchise to new places, like Dubai and Russia.

    The Russian Grand Prix in Sochi was a big success back in May.

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    Tags:
    racing, British Grand Prix, Grand Prix, British Racing Drivers' Club (BDRC), Formula 1, Bernie Ecclestone, Britain, London
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