Sean Bratches warns Silverstone over Formula 1 future
Formula 1 commercial chief Sean Bratches has warned Silverstone, and other long-standing circuits, that “nothing is immutable” in terms of the calendar, amid Vietnam’s impending arrival.
It was confirmed on Wednesday that Formula 1 has signed a multi-year deal to hold a Vietnam Grand Prix on a 5.5km semi-permanent street circuit close to the city of Hanoi.
It is the first new confirmed event unveiled by Liberty Media since its takeover of Formula 1 in early 2017, though it previously released proposals to race in Miami, which are currently on hold.
Liberty has this year penned extensions with Japan, Belgium and Germany, though the latter’s revised contract is only for 2019.
It means that long-standing events in Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain are without contracts for 2020.
The respective three-year deals with Italy (Monza) and Spain (Barcelona) expire after next season, with the previous contracts having been agreed under Liberty’s predecessor CVC Capital Partners.
Silverstone, meanwhile, agreed a 17-year British Grand Prix contract in 2009, though had the ability to exercise a break clause mid-2017 that meant it would stop hosting duties after 2019.
It opted to trigger that clause, citing long-term financial concerns if it continued under the original contract, and there has not been any progress in reaching a new deal.
Bratches stressed the importance of retaining historic events but warned that iconic circuits cannot be guaranteed of their place on the calendar, and hinted that the British Grand Prix could move away from Silverstone post-2019.
“We want to preserve the heritage races, they are very important to Formula 1 and they are very important to fans,” said Bratches.
“I’m talking about the Silverstones, the Spas, the Monzas of this world.
“Then we have a set of street races and hybrid street races, where we race in parks and on city streets, such as Melbourne, Montreal and Mexico City.
“The third segment features purpose-built facilities such as Shanghai, Austin, Texas and Bahrain.”
When asked whether events in Britain or Italy could be moved to different locations, Bratches replied: “We’re a 68-year-old entity and the nature of grand prix racing is that it is dynamic.
“Silverstone was the first grand prix, but we haven’t raced at Silverstone all those 68 years. The race has been held at Brands Hatch and other venues.
“Nothing is immutable in this sport in terms of where we race.
“We do value certain races highly and we do what we can to preserve racing there, but we are a business.
“We are a public company and we have a lot of stakeholders and shareholders and we’re trying to marry what’s best for fans with running a successful business.”
The British Grand Prix has been ever-present on the Formula 1 calendar, with Silverstone the permanent home since 1987, having also held the inaugural World Championship event in 1950.
Neither Brands Hatch nor Donington Park, which hosted the 1993 European Grand Prix and was in line to host F1 from 2010 until plans fell through, are at the required level, while occasional ideas to hold a race in London have never been fully developed.