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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Long-term future of British Grand Prix in Formula One to be announced shortly

Silverstone's owners poised to declare on Tuesday they have activated a break-out clause to cease Formula One racing after 2019.

Lewis Hamilton's wins have been memorable for fans coming to Silverstone to watch the British Grand Prix. Andrew Boyers / Reuters
Lewis Hamilton's wins have been memorable for fans coming to Silverstone to watch the British Grand Prix. Andrew Boyers / Reuters

The long-term future of the British Grand Prix will be left hanging precariously in the balance on Tuesday with Silverstone's owners poised to announce that they have activated a break-out clause to cease Formula One racing after 2019.

British Racing Drivers' Club chairman John Grant was due to host a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, in which he will deliver what has been billed as a "significant announcement" regarding the circuit's future.

It is expected that the BRDC, which owns Silverstone, will give notice of its intent to leave midway through its 17-year-contract in the hope of brokering a more financially-viable deal with the sport's new owners Liberty Media.

Nearly 140,000 spectators watched Britain's triple world champion Lewis Hamilton claim his third consecutive win at Silverstone last year. And a near sell-out crowd is expected again this weekend as Hamilton bids to reduce rival Sebastian Vettel's 20-point lead at the summit of the championship.

But the demands of the hosting fee which goes up by five per cent every year - from £12 million in 2010, the year in which the new long-term deal started, to £17m (Dh80.42m) this season and £26m in 2026 - is crippling Silverstone.

American giants Liberty Media has staged a series of talks with both the BRDC and Silverstone. But while Silverstone wants to continue its relationship with Formula One, it will not do so at the cost of financial ruin. The Northamptonshire circuit, unlike many other tracks on the F1 calendar, receives no government backing.

Silverstone's decision to give notice of its intent to exit the sport will place a heavy burden on Liberty Media, which would not want to risk losing an event - an ever-present on the calendar for nearly 70 years - during the formative months of its reign.