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Silverstone announces British GP contract break after 2019

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With mounting costs to run the race, the organizers at Silverstone have decided to activate a break clause in its contract following the 2019 British Grand Prix.

The British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) has been saddled with a steadily increasing contract over the years from its most recent contract it completed with past F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone.

This year, it pays F1 £17m to stage the race, with that fee set to rise to £27m by 2026 when the current deal ends.

In a statement released Tuesday, the organizers said they hope to renegotiate with F1’s new owners Liberty Media to bring that cost down to host the event.

But otherwise, if no deal can be reached, it leaves the future of the British Grand Prix in doubt beyond 2019, as another circuit would have to step up in its stead.

“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,” BRDC chairman John Grant said in a statement.

“We sustained losses of £2.8m in 2015 and £4.8m 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.”

“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.”

The full statement is linked here.

Beyond F1, Silverstone also hosts the traditional curtain raiser of the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series in April, along with MotoGP on August 27 in a deal that also includes a 2018 option.

Valtteri Bottas on Silverstone pole; Nico Hulkenberg a surprising third

F1 Bottas Hamilton Silverstone
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Valtteri Bottas nipped Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Silverstone qualifying Saturday to maintain the team’s hammerlock on F1 results this season while Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise in third.

Hulkenberg is filling in for Sergio Perez for the second consecutive race while the Racing Point driver recovers from coronavirus.

It’s the best F1 start since 2016 for Hulkenberg, who was left without a full-time ride after the 2019 season. He finished 20th at Silverstone last week when an engine problem on the grid prevented him ftaking the green.

“The last seven to eight days have been crazy,” Hulkenberg said after qualifying. “This weekend I felt much better prepared. Q3 was just head down, full beans, and give it whatever I had. I’m a bit surprised to be standing here, but there’s a big smile on my face.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth and will be among the field trying to derail the Mercedes duo that has won the first four races of an F1 season delayed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Feels good,” Bottas said after nipping Hamilton by a few hundredths of a second on his final lap for his 13th career pole position. ” I just love qualifying especially, when it goes well. Proud to drive this car. Our first job is to get a good start off the line tomorrow and go from there.”

The impressive lap came two days after Bottas, who won the season opener in Austria, announced a one-year contract extension with the team.

Mercedes also is set to begin negotiating a new deal with Hamilton, who has won the past three races in F1 but was disappointed Saturday.

“Valtteri did a great job, but for me, it wasn’t a perfect last lap,” he said. “I don’t think many teams will be doing a one-stop race tomorrow so let’s wait and see how things turn out.”