Final Lap?

“It would be shocking to lose Silverstone from the calendar and even more shocking to lose a British Grand Prix when you consider 80% of the teams are based within the UK and how much the UK contributes to F1 from a historical point of view.”

Christian Horner, Red Bull F1 Team Principal

Our company has worked in all kinds of sectors over the years, but our primary focus has always been on promoting Britain’s manufacturing and engineering industries. It was disappointing therefore to read this week that the F1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit is once again in peril, only eight years after its last crisis. The event is one of the jewels in F1’s crown, but with hosting fees for the race growing beyond the means of the circuit operators they have decided to exercise the break clause in their contract. This has been derided as negotiating tactic by F1’s owners, but any uncertainty over the future of the race is bad news – for several reasons.

One reason is that the event in its current form is immensely popular and well attended. Despite the British Grand Prix being the only race on the F1 calendar that isn’t state-subsidised, it manages to pull in more than 300,000 visitors over the course of a weekend, temporarily becoming the world’s busiest heliport. This is what a successful event looks like. A race on the streets of London has been mooted as a potential alternative to Silverstone, but would be extremely difficult to organise and gives yet another blue-ribbon event to the capital.

Having the race at Silverstone helps spread the benefits of Britain’s motorsport heritage, and those benefits don’t just exist on race weekend. Eight of the ten teams currently competing are based here, and the weekend of the Silverstone race is a chance for them to do business with existing and prospective partners – crucially important in a sport which costs some teams more than £300m per season. Since much of that money is spent on paying people here in the UK to make incredible and innovative new things, losing that investment would profoundly damage Britain’s reputation for engineering, as well costing us thousands of high quality jobs.

There are Formula 1 races all over the world that attract a fraction of the interest and yet have secure futures. When one of the biggest events on the British calendar is running perfectly well, it really is absurd that anybody is having to consider the prospect of it not running after 2019. We welcome any sensible attempt to get a new deal signed as soon as possible, so that the thousands of people in Britain’s motorsport engineering industry can stop worrying about what the future holds and focusing instead on doing what they do best.


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