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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

British Grand Prix: Horner accuses Silverstone of 'serious misjudgement and mismanagement'

Red Bull team Racing team principal Christian Horner has accused Silverstone of ''serious misjudgement and mismanagement'' after the circuit's owners gave notice of their intent to pull the plug on Formula One.

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner looks on from the pit wall during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 8, 2017 in Spielberg, Austria.
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner looks on from the pit wall during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 8, 2017 in Spielberg, Austria.

Red Bull team Racing team principal Christian Horner has accused Silverstone of ''serious misjudgement and mismanagement'' after the circuit's owners gave notice of their intent to pull the plug on Formula One.

The British Grand Prix is now in danger of being chalked off the calendar following the decision taken by the British Racing Drivers' Club, which owns the Northamptonshire circuit, on Tuesday.

The BRDC are hopeful that their move to activate a release clause in its current deal after 2019 will allow them to negotiate a more affordable contract with Formula One's new American owners Liberty Media.

Silverstone agreed a 17-year contract back in 2010, but they believe the hosting fee - which increases by five per cent each year - is not sustainable. Indeed on Tuesday the BRDC announced losses of almost £8 million (Dh38m) for staging the race over the past two years despite attracting sell-out crowds.

But Horner, a member of the BRDC, believes their decision could backfire, with F1's owners not guaranteed to cut them a more financially-viable deal.

''I am amazed that they have triggered their break clause,'' Horner said. ''Silverstone signed a contract in 2010, and they knew what they were entering into at the time.

''They have now realised that they can't afford it despite having a full house every year. They either should not have signed it in the first place or they got their maths wrong.

''Silverstone gets favourable rates anyway. It is hard to imagine they lose money putting 120,000 people in there, plus all the corporate tickets they sell during the course of a grand prix weekend. For me, I would question how it has been managed and the negotiations they had in the first place.''

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The future of the British Grand Prix has been called into question on numerous occasions in the past with former F1 overlord Bernie Ecclestone among Silverstone's chief critics.

The BRDC responded by spending £27m on its state-of-the-art "Wing" pit complex which it opened to much aplomb in 2011.

But Horner added: ''From a team's perspective, we can't see any changes. They spent a fortune on the pits and they put them in the wrong place.

''They have created a paddock with zero atmosphere at one of the most historic race tracks in the UK, so there has been some serious misjudgement and mismanagement."

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton will be absent from Formula One's live parade through London on Wednesday after announcing he is taking a two-day break on the eve of this year's British Grand Prix.

Hamilton had been expected to lead the billing in front of his home crowd as F1 descends on the capital for a demonstration run on the streets of Westminster in the build-up to Sunday's race at Silverstone.

But the 32-year-old Englishman, who trails championship leader Sebastian Vettel by 20 points after finishing only fourth in Austria last Sunday, will be the highest-profile absentee from the star-studded show after opting to go on holiday rather than appear in front of swathes of British fans.

''To my loving fans, I can't wait to see you in Silverstone,'' Hamilton said in a short message on his Twitter account. ''Until then, I'm away on a two day break. God Bless you all. Love, Lewis.''