Horner says the British Grand Prix leaving Silverstone would be ‘disastrous’
Christian Horner has heaped further pressure on Formula One to finalise a new deal with the British Grand Prix.
PA understands that the finishing touches are being put together on a new contract which would guarantee the future of the sport’s oldest race.
But, as it stands, Sunday’s round at Silverstone is set to be the last staged at the Northamptonshire track.
Sources close to the negotiations have said that the financial side of a new agreement have now been settled, and although the contract has yet to be signed off, both parties are working together to iron out the final terms.
While Silverstone remains hopeful of getting the deal over the line before this weekend, they will not be rushed into an agreement unless all of the details are to their suiting. A deal confirming the race has been saved, however, could be announced as early as Wednesday.
“To lose the British Grand Prix from Silverstone would be disastrous,” said Horner, the Red Bull team principal.
“It would be fantastic for British motorsport and for Formula One to stay at Silverstone. It is the home of grand prix racing.
“The first-ever grand prix was held there, and seven of Formula One’s 10 teams are based within a 50-mile radius of Silverstone.”
The future of the British Grand Prix has hung in the balance for two years after Silverstone triggered its release clause in the hope of brokering a better deal.
Their current contract, struck with former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, includes a five per cent annual increase which would have escalated the hosting fee to £26million by 2026.
While the race at Silverstone attracts 350,000 spectators over the weekend – with a record crowd in excess of 140,000 expected through the turnstiles on Sunday – the staging fee was making the event untenable.
Silverstone also want exclusivity on a grand prix in Britain despite the sport’s owners, Liberty Media, keen on staging a race in London.
The Docklands has been earmarked as a possible location but Horner added: “It only works if it is in proper London. Dagenham doesn’t really count.
“If a race takes place in London, you need to see Nelson’s Column or the Queen when the cars pass Buckingham Palace.
“The idea of a London race is an interesting concept as a one-off, and as long as it didn’t detract from the event at Silverstone.”
Silverstone hosted the inaugural F1 race in 1950 and has been the British Grand Prix’s permanent home since 1987.
Lewis Hamilton will be bidding to win there for a record sixth time on Sunday.
The world champion holds a 31-point lead over Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas as he bids to secure a sixth title.