2016 British Grand Prix 'at risk' say reports

© XPB 

Next year's British Grand Prix could be at risk, according to Silverstone’s managing director Patrick Allen who has warned of a shortfall in funding.

Although Silverstone has a contract to host the event until 2026, the circuit is currently in arrears in paying its hosting fee of around £16 million per year for the Formula One race.

The situation has arisen because of paying for recent extensive circuit facility upgrades and also as a result of a dip in land revenue revenues after being forced to sell off land it owned around the venue in order to raise money clear debts.

Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone now requires a letter of credit from Silverstone's bankers guaranteeing the fee payments will be made, but the banks might not do this as ticket sales are barely compensating for the annual increase in the race hosting fee.

"Can I guarantee the future? No I can’t," Allen told Britain's Daily Telegraph. "Could I hand on heart say to Mr Ecclestone, 'Don’t worry, your money is absolutely safe for the next ten years?' No I couldn’t."

If Silverstone can't obtain a letter of credit in time, a clause means that the existing contract with FOM could be invoked with immediate effect - meaning that there would be no British Grand Prix in 2016.

"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," said Allen.

Because Silverstone doesn't receive any UK government funding, a three day pass already costs £170 which is more than any other Grand Prix on the calendar.

“If you put the price up you get less people,” Allen explaining, adding that he was operating on very tight margins. "It gets more expensive every year and there is a finite capacity that we can get into the circuit. So it is certainly increasingly difficult."

Responding to the reports, Ecclestone told Sky Sports that he hadn't been approached by Allen or anyone else about the fee situation. It's thought that Silverstone's fee is already heavily discounted compared with other race venues such as Singapore, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

"He has a very good contract and he knows that," said Ecclestone. "The problems all stem from problems with the BRDC [British Racing Drivers' Club] from years ago.

"I hadn't thought about it because I hope it doesn't happen," he added when asked about whether the British Grand Prix was at risk.

For Allen, the worsening situation now requires someone with big pockets to step in to save the race: "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."

Monza - another historic circuit with a long record of holding Grand Prix events - has also been struggling to retain Formula One.

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