British Grand Prix: Race is as Formula One and Silverstone reach a new deal

Lewis Hamilton after winning the 2017 British Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton after winning the 2017 British Grand Prix

The British Grand Prix has been saved from Formula One extinction following the announcement of a new £100million deal.

The sport's oldest race had been under threat following a two-year saga, sparked by Silverstone triggering a release clause in its contract.

But a new five-year agreement signed off by F1's owners Liberty Media, Silverstone, and the British Racing Drivers' Club on the eve of this weekend's event, ensures the Northamptonshire circuit will continue to stage the British race beyond this season and through until 2024.

"Silverstone is one of the most iconic grands prix on the F1 calendar and with such a rich heritage it would have been disastrous for the sport and fans had we not managed to find a way forward," said John Grant, chairman of the BRDC, which owns the track situated on the site of a World War Two Royal Air Force bomber station.

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British Grand Prix Classics

1987

Nigel Mansell was forced to pit for a new set of tyres after reporting vibrations on his Williams. With 30 laps remaining he was the best part of half a minute behind his team-mate and fierce rival Nelson Piquet. The chase appeared impossible but, spurred on by his home crowd, Mansell smashed the lap record on nine occasions before catching and passing Piquet after an exquisite move at Stowe with only two laps left. The home crowd were euphoric and Mansell responded by leaping out of his Williams and kissing the tarmac.

1994

Michael Schumacher illegally overtook pole-sitter Damon Hill on the parade lap and was ordered to serve a stop-and-go penalty. A black flag was issued which should have resulted in Schumacher's instant disqualification. But the German kept going and eventually opted to pull into the pits on lap 27 to serve his earlier stop-and-go punishment. Hill went on to claim a crucial victory and was presented with the winner's trophy by Princess Diana. Schumacher finished second, but he was later disqualified for ignoring the black flag and subsequently handed a two-race ban.

1998

Schumacher was at the centre of controversy again four years later after winning the race while stationary in the pit-lane. Mika Hakkinen had led from the start, but as the rain fell and conditions deteriorated, the Finn lost control of his McLaren and spun. The safety car was deployed, and while Hakkinen remained in the race, he had sustained damage to his front wing. His 40-second lead was wiped out and Schumacher looked odds-on to win. The German, however, had illegally passed Alexander Wurz under a yellow flag, which should have resulted in a stop-and-go penalty. But the haphazard stewards only announced his punishment with two laps left. Schumacher entered the pits to serve his penalty, but had already crossed the start-finish line and won the race. The bizarre result stood despite McLaren's protests.

2003

Rubens Barrichello claimed the greatest victory of his career in an all-time F1 classic. The Ferrari driver started from pole but slipped to eighth after a safety car was deployed when a protester stormed the track along the 200mph Hangar Straight. But Barrichello carved his way back through the field before executing a wonderful move on McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen on lap 42 to claim the lead, and ultimately, the race victory.

2008

Lewis Hamilton arrived at his home race fourth in the drivers' standings but left on top after storming to victory in one of his outstanding performances. In torrential rain, Hamilton blitzed the field, finishing the race almost 70 seconds ahead of second-placed Nick Heidfeld and lapped the entire pack up to third.


F1 chairman Chase Carey added: "We have been clear from the outset that this is one of our signature races. It was always our goal to renew the deal, and we have worked hard to find a win-win proposition that we are both excited about."

Under the old contract, signed when former supremo Bernie Ecclestone was at the sport's helm, Silverstone was set to pay £26m to stage the race. The new hosting fee is thought to be in the region of £20m a year.

A major sticking point in contract negotiations was F1's pursuit of a race in London. Discussions remain ongoing over the staging of a grand prix in the Docklands, with Carey confirming at Silverstone that a race in the capital remains a possibility.

Silverstone, situated 70 miles north of London, is wary that another race in the UK could dent its ticket sales, but Grant says assurances have been put in place.

"We were concerned about the commercial threat to us having a competitor event on our doorstep," added Grant. "So, we have had very frank and open discussions with F1.

"We have come up with a modus operandi set of arrangements which protects our interest if London becomes a reality.

"There is room for the two races to co-exist as long as they have sufficient separation in time between the races and our commercial interests are recognised."

Britain's five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton will head into Sunday's race bidding to win his home grand prix for a record sixth time.

The Mercedes star holds a 31-point title lead over team-mate Valtteri Bottas with a sixth world championship likely to follow this season.

A record crowd in excess of 140,000 are expected through the turnstiles on Sunday, but Stuart Pringle, Silverstone's managing director, acknowledged that it has had to assess life after the British star.

Pringle said: "We have been very conscious throughout this process that we are living in a time where there is enormous excitement around the five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and he is, in part, driving our gate.

"We have had to do our calculations as to what it will look like with a less good gate and we have had to put prudence into our calculations. We have to run this business with a little bit of slack. We cannot be on the rev limiter all of the time."

Hamilton, who has prepared for his home race by spending time in Los Angeles, will be at Silverstone on Thursday to fulfill his pre-race media duties.

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