Silverstone’s managing director has admitted that he can’t guarantee the future of the British Grand Prix as the track is in need of an investor.
The Northamptonshire circuit’s current deal runs until the 2026 season, but the Daily Telegraph reports that a “clause in the agreement with F1’s boss Bernie Ecclestone allows it to be terminated as early as next year”.
The paper adds that Silverstone is in arrears when it comes to paying its hosting fees and will need “a letter of credit from its bankers is necessary for the race to go ahead”.
“They are paying next year for this year’s race because I have allowed them to do this otherwise they would have closed before,” Ecclestone said.
Silverstone MD Patrick Allen admits that they might not get the letter of credit if the annual increase in the race hosting fee is more than the ticket sales.
“Can I guarantee the future? No I can’t,” he said. “Could I hand on heart say to Mr Ecclestone,‘don’t worry, your money is absolutely safe for the next 10 years?’ No I couldn’t… to pull the contract would be a sad thing for Silverstone, it would be a sad thing for motor racing and it would be a very sad thing for Britain.”
It is believed that the track has to pay about £16m in hosting fees, but that increases by five per cent every year, which is half of what other races have to pay.
Allen admits the best solution is to find an investor, adding: “What you really need for all parties is, in my opinion, somebody who wants to buy a trophy asset and is willing to put a large amount of equity in…
“You want somebody that has got lots of money, who loves motor racing, who really wants to run Silverstone profitably but has the capital to inject into the business so it fixes the balance sheet and takes the risk profile away.”