LONDON — One day after Silverstone’s owners announced they will terminate their British Grand Prix contract, Formula One’s new leadership said Wednesday they had been inundated with interest from around 30 places looking to stage races.
Liberty Media has spent its first six months in charge of F1 trying to exploit the commercial opportunities it believes were not being seized on toward the end of Bernie Ecclestone’s control of the motorsport series.
“Since I’ve been here, probably 30 countries, municipalities, principalities have reached out to me about interest in bringing Formula One to their cities, their countries,” Sean Bratches, F1’s managing director for commercial operations, told The Associated Press. “So we are in a unique spot. We have an abundance of opportunities and we are going to have to figure out where we go and again at the center of that decision is, ‘What is the best thing for our fans?’”
Bratches was speaking next to Trafalgar Square in London where F1 cars were stationed on Wednesday for a fan event featuring an evening concert.
However, Britain could be losing its only race. The owners of Silverstone, which staged its first F1 race in 1948, told Liberty on Tuesday that the hosting fee has become too prohibitive and the losses cannot be sustained.
A break clause in the contract was activated, meaning that the last race at the central England circuit will be in 2019 unless a new, cheaper contract can be negotiated. For the moment, Liberty is just focusing on working with Silverstone to make the most of corporate hospitality at the best-attended race on the calendar — which is being staged on Sunday.
“We are going to put our shoulder into making Silverstone one of the greatest races on the racing circuit over the next three years and we will see where we go from there,” Bratches said. “But from a Formula One standpoint we are very committed to a British Grand Prix going forward.”
Bratches would not say if that race had to be in Silverstone, rather than elsewhere in Britain. A street race in London has regularly been mooted, and bringing F1 closer to the fans is a priority for Liberty.
“Our expectation is to go to large cities and have races on more street circuits,” Bratches said, without providing details on locations. “We are going to add street circuits. The majority will probably be traditional tracks. But our expectation is to try to go to city centers and activate large fan bases with our brand on a going forward basis.”