LONDON: The British Grand Prix may have to be dropped from the calendar for a year if the owners of Silverstone bring down the curtain on their hosting of the race in 2019, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone said Friday (Saturday in Manila).
Ecclestone’s reaction came after the president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) warned the organization’s members about the viability of the race.
Ecclestone, 86, said he didn’t envisage the British Grand Prix disappearing for good but there might be a one-year hiatus.
“We don’t want to lose F1 in Britain. Maybe there will have to be a year without it, but normally we are going to be alright,” Ecclestone told ITV News.
“We are not worried about losing Formula One from England, I am worried about losing Formula One at Silverstone, that is all.”
Ecclestone, who failed in an attempt to move the race to Donington in 2009, would not be drawn on the two venues he claims have indicated an interest in stepping in to host the race.
“I’m not going to say where it is,” he replied when pressed whether it was Brands Hatch or London.
Ecclestone, who has been chief executive of Formula One for almost 40 years, criticised the British Government for not helping towards the costs of the event.
“It’s good for England, good for business, good for everybody. Not a case for F1 companies…we could go anywhere,” said Ecclestone.
John Grant, president of the BRDC, said in a letter published by ITV News on Thursday that the company faced “ruinous costs”.
“The board is considering whether we should give notice before the 2017 BGP (British Grand Prix) of our intention to exercise the break clause in the BGP contract at the end of 2019,” he wrote.
“We have to protect our club against the potentially ruinous risk of a couple of bad years.”
This year’s British Grand Prix, scheduled to take place in July, will go ahead as planned.
Silverstone first staged the race in 1950 and has hosted it continually since 1987, but despite attracting 139,000 spectators last year, it has recorded a deficit in the last two years.
According to the terms of the current contract, a 17-year deal signed in 2009, Silverstone paid almost £18 million ($22.2 million, 21 million euros) for the right to stage the 2016 race.
The figure rises by five percent every year.
The BRDC keeps the funds raised by ticket sales and a proportion of hospitality money, but receives nothing from television rights or sponsorship.
Silverstone is located in the historic cradle of F1 in Britain.
Force India, Haas, Mercedes, Manor, Red Bull Racing, Renault and Williams are either based or have facilities near Silverstone, which is situated north of London between Northampton and Milton Keynes.