Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has granted Silverstone permission to defer its race fee for this season’s British Grand Prix until 2016, as the historic circuit faces renewed questions over its long-term place on the calendar of the motor racing series.
The Autosport website said Silverstone has been forced to defer the hosting-fee payment, understood to be around £16m (€21.8m/$24.7m) at present, due to a lack of funds. Ecclestone has said he believes the Northamptonshire circuit’s bankers have now agreed to a line of credit that will at least allow next year’s race to proceed.
Silverstone’s current race deal runs until 2026, but includes a break clause should it continue to struggle to meet its financial obligations. Ecclestone told Autosport: “They will be paying us for this year's race next year. We've agreed on a kind of an instalment plan. We're doing all we can do. They got exactly the contract they wanted, and asked for, which is a lot more beneficial than others have.”
Silverstone is encountering financial problems as it no longer receives rental revenue from the 280 acres of land surrounding the circuit, while its 17-year race deal agreed in 2009 includes an annual escalator clause for its hosting fee of five per cent.
Ecclestone has called on the British government to provide financial assistance to ensure the long-term future of the grand prix. “They are looking for a little bit of support from government sources,” Ecclestone said. “It's something they should get because Silverstone does a lot for England and quite a bit for the area. They should get support as lots of countries do.”
Renewed doubts over the British GP come with another of F1’s historic races, the Italian Grand Prix, also facing pressure. Italian GP organisers have only one more year remaining on their contract and Ecclestone has repeatedly stated that he wants the Monza circuit, which is located outside Milan, to pay a similar race fee as other European venues in order for it to continue on the calendar from 2017 onwards.