Sir Jackie Stewart says Formula 1 needs the British GP to survive
Silverstone likely to activate break clause next week; Stewart calls for government support to secure a new deal with Liberty Media
By Jonathan Green
Last Updated: 05/07/17 12:04pm
Sir Jackie Stewart says Formula 1 needs a British GP and has called for government assistance to ensure the race remains on the calendar.
The future of the race beyond 2019 is uncertain with Silverstone, the current host, set to activate a break clause in their contract ahead of next weekend's race due to spiralling costs.
The British GP is one of the few grands prix which does not benefit from state support, and a five per cent escalator built into the 17-year deal signed in late 2009 means this season's race will cost just over £17m
Philip Walker, a director of Silverstone's owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), told the Mail on Sunday last weekend that it was "highly probable" that the break clause would be activated.
However, the race could remain if Silverstone are able to negotiate a new contract with F1's owners Liberty Media, and Stewart has called for the government to provide support to ensure a deal is possible.
"The British GP has to survive for Formula 1 grand prix racing," Stewart, a former president of the BRDC, said during The Grand Prix Show on talkSPORT 2.
"In this country we are the capital of motorsport technology. My information, supplied by the authorities, is that 143,000 people are employed in the British motorsports industry in the United Kingdom.
"That means there is a high technology labour bloc which is valuable to the United Kingdom because about 80 per cent of it is exported. That means we have a tremendous contribution to make to the country.
"Many other sports are given some assistance to be able to bring medals home. The British GP has never been able to get the government, and that's been several governments, to support it. If there is a gap between the Liberty Media contract and the affordability for the British Racing Drivers' Club and Silverstone, then I think we have to find a way for [government support] to happen.
"Other sports don't have an industry behind them as powerful, and lucrative, to the nation as the British GP has through the technology which Britain leads the world in.
"The Mercedes Silver Arrows are not manufactured in Stuttgart. The Formula 1 car is manufactured in Brackley and so is the engine. It's an entirely British operation and it's the great German team who are taking the benefit of that on a global basis.
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"There's an awful lot of technology that we have. We cannot afford to lose the British GP. I fought very hard to keep it, and Bernie Ecclestone did make concessions, but it was still a very large amount of money for a private members club to afford. It's the only private members club in the world who has a grand prix circuit being raced on since 1950, and that's when the first grand prix was ever held.
"The first world championship was held at Silverstone in 1950 and we have not missed a year since and Britain has contributed enormously to the world of motorsport because of how well we've done over those years, both with drivers and also the technology of the cars."
You can hear the full interview with Sir Jackie Stewart, as well as insight from Sky F1's Rachel Brookes and Kevin Eason, at 6pm on Thursday July 6 on talkSPORT 2 during The Grand Prix Show - an hour-long show that goes to air ahead of each GP weekend. Listen live here.
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