Tuesday 24 October 2017

Silverstone chief warns European GPs in peril

Last year's British Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit
Last year's British Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit

Tim Rich

Governments must start underwriting the costs of staging grands prix to stop the drift of Formula One races from Europe to the Far East and Arabian Gulf.

So warns Patrick Allen, recently installed managing director of Silverstone, the venue of the British GP.

Circuits across Europe are under threat of losing their grands prix. The cancellation of the German Grand Prix means there are now just six in western Europe and the contracts for two circuits - Italy and Spain - are up for renewal in the next two years. The Italian GP at Monza is not expected to survive. Ten years ago, Europe staged 11 of 19 races.

Allen said that unless European governments start underwriting some of the costs of staging races and circuits start upping their game in terms of what they offer spectators, the sport will continue to move east. Azerbaijan will stage its first grand prix next year and Qatar has bid to stage a race in 2016.

"It is difficult to sustain or make money from a grand prix unless you have some external support, whether that is from a government or a rich Arab sheikh," said Allen. "We are seeing an increase in circuits that enjoy that kind of patronage.

"In the absence of that - and Silverstone is not supported in any way by patronage - we have to look at ways in which we can keep the show going.

"My view is that we have to make Silverstone a destination venue, properly cost the British Grand Prix and get more people attending.

"I would welcome the government getting involved in supporting us and I think they should invest in a venue that has a sound business plan behind it." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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