Silverstone remains committed to renegotiating contract
One year on since organisers of the British Grand Prix triggered a break clause in its contract could the race face a temporary exit from the calendar. Silverstone was the circuit which held the first F1 Grand Prix in 1950, and the race is the only one of two races to be held annually since.
Seventy years on from the first Grand Prix at Silverstone, the race remains one of the crown jewels of F1 and British sport. However, over the past few years, the race has become financially unviable to the point where the BRDC triggered a break clause.
There has been little news on the renegotiation, but Liberty Media and the BRDC remain committed to finding a better deal. The seventeen-year contract signed in 2009-10, had an annual fee escalator of five per cent, which has become unaffordable.
That is despite the growing popularity of the race, this weekend over 300,000 fans are expected to attend the race. Silverstone wants to continue to hold the race, but they have made a loss of £7.6m in 2015 and 2016.
That then forced them to reluctantly trigger the break clause, so-called Article 50 following the Brexit referendum, to force Liberty to the negotiating table. The break clause doesn’t take affect until next years race.
Another round of negotiations is due this weekend, with reports that positive talks between Liberty and the BRDC are taking place. F1 commercial managing director, Sean Bratches told Sky Sports, “Silverstone is part of the foundation of this sport. We are a commercial business and we are going to do a deal that makes sense for us and hopefully there’s an opportunity there.”
Last month, organisers at Spa another of the races featured in 1950, announced a new deal which has been described it as an “improvement on the previous one”, with the Belgian circuit’s own future having appeared precarious from time to time in recent years.
Silverstone’s renegotiation is part of wider plans to try and create a year round destination for sport and events. Speaking to F1 Racing, managing director Stuart Pringle said “The door is 100 per cent not shut. We have an ongoing dialogue, which is why it’s best to keep it between us.”
Until a deal is signed the future remains uncertain, but both F1 and Silverstone keen to extend their relationship.
Williams avoids McLaren critics as they don’t “tear us apart”
Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe believes that the team “humility and sportsmanship” is why critics are not willing to “tear us apart” for underperforming like they have McLaren.
The two British teams are two of the biggest names in Formula One, with two hundred and ninety-six wins and a seventeen constructors’ championship titles between them.
However, neither has won a race since 2012: Williams’s Spanish Grand Prix victory that year is its only triumph in the last fourteen seasons, while McLaren’s win-less run stretches back to the season finale in Brazil.
McLaren is currently sixth in the constructors, while Williams is last. Asked by Motorsport.com, why Williams escapes the sort of scrutiny McLaren is facing, Lowe said: “You’ve got to look at the team and what it represents, and particularly look at Frank [Williams, team founder] and what he created.”
“It’s a very well respected team. Frank’s approach, his values, the way he’s approached motor racing, is instilled in the team and continued by Claire in a great way – a sense of sportsmanship and humility around what we do.
“I met Frank once in a hotel lobby when I was at McLaren and they’d had a really bad day, 10 or more years ago, and I said, ‘Sorry about your bad day Frank’. He said, ‘We were tested and found wanting’. That’s his attitude.”
Mclaren’s dismal spell took another twist on Wednesday when the teams racing director Eric Boullier resigned.
Asked recently about supposed media hostility towards his team, McLaren’s F1 CEO Zak Brown said: “My view is it’s because McLaren is a great team and we all have very high expectations. If there’s something that is creating that, I don’t know what it is.”
Hamilton and Ericson set for world cup clash
Lewis Hamilton says he will travel to Moscow next weekend if England makes the final of the world cup. The four times champion has been following the national team’s progress throughout the world cup.
England takes on Sweden in the quarter-final, following Saturday’s qualifying session for this weekends British Grand Prix. Hamilton claims, should England progress to their first final since their winning campaign in 1966, he will be out in Russia as a fan.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Hamilton said “The passion is crazy for everyone that’s watching their country play. It’s like it’s in your DNA – it’s crazy, and it’s so exciting.”
“[The final] is next Sunday and I’ve booked that day off, kept it free because I want to be in Russia that day supporting them!” England beat Colombia on Tuesday, to set a semi-final against Croatia or Russia.
He says “I can only imagine the boys are definitely on a high at the moment,” Hamilton continued. “I hope they’re sleeping well, I hope they’re eating well because that’s a large part of it, and ultimately just going out and enjoying themselves.
“There’s so much pressure on them, obviously with it being the World Cup, but there’s so much support for them. England have such excited fans, there’s so much passion in England for sport.”
The Swedish driver Marcus Ericsson, added “We went into the tournament with very low expectations because we don’t have many big stars in our team and we have quite a low-profile team.”
“They’ve done extremely well and for Sweden, it’s quite a small country, so we didn’t expect that.
“I think what has happened is our team has come together more, they’re all hard workers. and for the team it’s really been working out to not have Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] in the team
Haas capable of beating Renault
Haas’s team principal Guenther Steiner believes that the team are capable of beating Renault to fourth in the championship. In Sundays Austrian Grand Prix, the team took its best ever result, with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen finishing fourth and fifth respectively.
The team has not previously spoken about there ambitions or targets but says that fourth was now the obvious target. Steiner told ESPN, “Why would we sit here say we just want to come fifth? You always try to go for what is possible and this is done with respect and this isn’t arrogance.”
“You need to try to go for fourth because [Renault] are 30 points in front of us. It can be done but also there’s a chance it cannot be done but for sure the aim is to go for it.”
He believes if the team even only manages fifth it would be a big achievement and would bring big financial rewards from FOM. Steiner added He then went on to suggest that fourth would put the team under increased pressure in 2019.
“On a sporting side, for the team, it would be, and I think you all agree, a big achievement a team in its third year finishing fourth, even fifth is a big achievement,” he added.
McLaren admits the car lacks downforce
McLaren’s CEO Zak Brown has admitted the teams 2018 car has less downforce than last years car. On Wednesday, the team announced a reshuffle of its management, including the resignation of racing director Eric Boullier.
Brown told Motorsport.com, “We don’t have the same level of downforce this year that we had last year. So we have identified an area in which our car this year is weaker than last year’s car. Did we have the best chassis last year? No, definitely not.”
“Did we have probably a better chassis? I think because of all the different variables it would be hard to definitively say yes or no, but we know we have less downforce this year than last year.” Despite the reshuffle in the technical department, he has admitted that it would take years to recover.
But did say that it would take between two and ten years, but says that the team needs to be realistic and honest with the journey ahead. He insisted the team has not given up on fourth in the constructors’ championship.
“We’re in a pretty big fight for fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh – all the teams are very close there. I don’t want to make predictions, that has got us into trouble in the past so I don’t want to repeat some of the mistakes we’ve made.” He added.
Renault hopes for less “confusion” without Red Bull
Renault believes that the engine side of the operation will have more focus and less “confusion” when its stops fulfilling the “eccentric” requests that Red Bull has made.
Renaults relationship with Red Bull will come to an end after the team decided to switch to Honda for next season. Renault Sport F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul has claimed that his company’s desire to work with Red Bull led to compromises with its engine design to suit the team’s aerodynamic needs.
Asked by Motorsport.com, what the impact of supplying two teams instead of three, he said “when we had to find compromises between McLaren, the factory team and Red Bull, frankly, we sometimes lost a lot of time and it could be confusing”.
“We knew how to work together extremely well,” said Abiteboul of Red Bull. “The processes were well established, the communication lines were well established. On the other hand, Red Bull was quite a large team, and a very demanding one, with high expectations.”
He says that the Red Bull partnership sometimes required additional effort from Renault and there were making compromises between Red Bull’s and the team own wishes. Red Bull has regularly built one of F1’s strongest chassis for almost 10 years, with an emphasis on aerodynamic performance under the technical leadership of Adrian Newey.
Abiteboul said it was Red Bull’s aero work that prompted the requests that he explained were “eccentric from an engine supplier’s point of view” but not something Renault needs “to worry about anymore”.
The Weekend Ahead
This weekend F1 heads to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. One of the biggest talking points off track will be the future of the race beyond 2019, we all want a deal done and the feeling I believe is one of getting there. But no deal, as we say with Brexit, has to be on the table.
Mercedes are again the favourite, this weekend and the next race in Germany are the teams home races, (Being a British based team and company, owned and racing under a German licence) they have been dominant here under the hybrid regulations. However, I think they will worry following that DNFs in Austria.
Silverstone is a circuit which rewards high downforce and speed, so Ferrari will be expected to be the closest challengers to Mercedes and any error could be costly for them. We normally see drama at Silverstone, you can overtake, the unpredictability of the weather is another factor.
Silverstone was built in a windy location as a wartime airfield, that can cause problems for the drivers and teams with weather patterns. The race is by default a ‘home’ Grand Prix for seven of the teams who are mostly based in the fifty-mile radius of Silverstone, so everyone will want a good result this weekend. Also, many drivers will have property in the UK because the teams are based here.
Lewis Hamilton will be the natural favourite, this weekend could see him become the most successful driver at Silverstone and the British Grand Prix should he win. He would move ahead of both Jim Clark and Alain Prost with six overall wins, and be the most successful driver at his home race.
Formula One Vault will bring you full coverage of the British and German Grand Prix’s, with reports and analysis on our website. F1 Today is taking a summer break, the next edition will be Tuesday 24th July