British GP: Claire Williams says unimaginable if no race after 2019
Claire Williams says it would be "criminal" for Britain if no F1 race in three years' time; SIlverstone defend timing of break confirmation
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 01/08/17 9:22pm
The demise of the British GP would be "criminal" for Formula 1 and British motorsport, according to Claire Williams.
Britain's showpiece motorsport event faces an uncertain future beyond 2019 after Silverstone, the home of the race for the last 30 years in succession, triggered an escape clause in their 17-year deal on cost grounds.
The British GP is one of F1's most historic events, but it also serves as the centrepiece of the wider British motor racing season, with an estimated 40,000 people working in the motorsport industry in the UK.
And Williams, whose team have won the race 10 times, says it is imperative that it is preserved into the next decade.
"Most of our teams are based in the UK, our employees are based here. It employs tens of thousands of people through teams and the supply chain," Williams told Sky Sports News HQ.
"The contribution to the UK economy over a race weekend is significant and shouldn't be underestimated. And to not have a British GP would be criminal.
"It would be extremely difficult for the teams who can't then bring all their other personnel that don't get to go to every race to a grand prix. It's one of the classic races on the circuit and you look at the British fans, they are some of the best in the world.
"How can we not put on our sport for them? That would be a huge loss, so I'm really hoping they [Silverstone] can turn things around and work with the new owners to do that."
Will Silverstone and F1 agree a new deal?
F1 chief Chase Carey told Sky Sports on Tuesday he was "disappointed" Silverstone had announced their decision to break the contract in the build-up to this weekend's race, but insisted "our goal is to still try and have a long-term agreement with Silverstone".
In an interview with Rachel Brookes for talkSPORT 2's Grand Prix Show, which is broadcast at 6pm on Thursday, BRDC president Derek Warwick said that while Liberty did give Silverstone the option to delay the announcement until the end of the month, it would not have changed the situation.
"We've obviously been trying hard the last few months and also years to find a way of the grand prix to survive at Silverstone without losing the kind of money we've been losing the last two years," Warwick, a former F1 driver, said.
"So we had no option but to break the clause because as much as we've been trying to negotiate before Liberty with Bernie [Ecclestone], and now with Liberty, we've not got to a situation where financially we have the confidence to take the grand prix forward to 2026.
"We legally had to break the clause before Friday. We did have an extension from Liberty, but because we were so far apart in how to drive this forward we thought it's best to get it over it and make sure the fans understand we've tried the best we can over these few years and it's not been possible to put together.
"To be honest, to delay it another four weeks only changes the position for Liberty I think. We don't want any bad feelings or any bad publicity going into the British GP this weekend, but let's try to separate the two."
Despite receiving a public rebuke from F1's owners, Silverstone still remains the most likely destination to hold the British GP from 2020 onwards.
However, amid speculation that a bid to hold a street race in London's Docklands is being put together, Carey told talkSPORT 2's Kevin Eason: "There are certainly other opportunities that have been put forth to us and it's only prudent for us to continue to evaluate opportunities.
"But probably our preferred goal will be to find a path that works for us with Silverstone. But there are other paths forward that have different, but uniquely exciting, potential."
Join Rachel Brookes on Wednesday night's F1 Report on Sky Sports F1 at 9pm when she's joined by Kevin Eason and Chris Medland to review the Austrian GP and look ahead to the British GP. Rachel and Kevin also host talkSPORT 2's Grand Prix show on Thursday at 6pm - listen here.