Silverstone owners upbeat in wake of Liberty takeover

The owners of British Grand Prix circuit Silverstone are confident Liberty Media’s takeover of Formula One will give them room to make a profit and stay on the calendar.

British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) president Derek Warwick told Sky Sports television he was “very positive now about the future”.

The BRDC owns the former World War Two airfield that hosted Formula One’s first world championship race in 1950 and has a contract to 2026.

The BRDC informed all members in a letter last month that it was giving serious thought to exercising a break clause because of the “potentially ruinous risk” posed by hosting fees that increased annually.

Media reports have indicated that Silverstone will have to pay nearly 17 million pounds to host the race this year, rising to 26 million by the end of the contract.

“Monday definitely changed the face of 2017,” said Warwick, referring to the completion of Liberty’s takeover and their replacement of Bernie Ecclestone with Chase Carey as Formula One chief executive.

“We know where we are going now with Liberty, we know where we’re going with Silverstone.

“We are very positive we can now work this grand prix and make a profit in 2017. We’re looking forward to 2017.”

Last year’s race, with triple world champion Lewis Hamilton on home soil for Mercedes, saw a race day crowd of 139,000 and Warwick indicated Liberty would allow Silverstone to benefit from revenue streams hitherto closed to the circuit owners.

“What he is saying to us is he might relax certain restrictions that Bernie has had on us over the last few years in terms of merchandising, marketing, sponsorship etc,” said the former racer.

“We know for a fact there are some circuits out there that have more flexibility with their contract with Bernie than what we’ve got.”