British Grand Prix at risk as Silverstone owners play tough

London (AFP) - Silverstone will not host the British Grand Prix after 2019 unless the circuit gets a better financial deal from Formula One, they announced on Tuesday ahead of this weekend's race.

Silverstone's owners the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) announced they were triggering a break clause in their 17-year contract.

That means the Grand Prix would not be raced on their prized possession post-2019 unless a revised agreement can be reached with Liberty Media, who were not the owners of F1 when the original deal began in 2010.

"This decision has been taken because it is not financially viable for us to deliver the British Grand Prix under the terms of our current contract," BRDC chairman John Grant said.

"We sustained losses of £2.8m (3.1m, $3.6m) in 2015 and £4.8m in 2016, and we expect to lose a similar amount this year.

"We have reached the tipping point where we can no longer let our passion for the sport rule our heads.

"It would not only risk the very future of Silverstone and the BRDC, but also the British motorsport community that depends on us.

"However, I want to be clear that although we have now activated the break clause, we are fully supportive of the changes the Liberty team are making to improve the F1 experience.

"Our hope is that an agreement can still be reached, so that we can ensure a sustainable and financially viable future for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for many years to come," added Grant whose body has been in talks with Liberty over the issue.

Formula One responded deploring BRDC's timing in airing their grievances in such a public manner in the lead up to Sunday's race.

"The week leading up to the British Grand Prix should be a week of great celebration for F1 and Silverstone," a Formula One spokesperson said.

"We deeply regret that Silverstone has chosen instead to use this week to posture and position themselves and invoke a break clause that will take effect in three years' time.

"We offered to extend the current deadlines in order to focus on everything that is great about Silverstone and Formula One.

"Regretfully the Silverstone management has chosen to look for a short-term advantage to benefit their position.

"Our focus is still to preserve the British Grand Prix. We will carry on negotiating with the promoter in good faith and in private to reach a fair and equitable solution."

- 'Silverstone has the history' -

Liberty chairman Chase Carey had told the BBC prior to the BRDC decision that there were other parties interested in hosting the race -- including according to 'The Times' it being raced in the Doclkands area in east London.

However, London mayor Sadiq Khan it is said would consider the pollution ramifications if approached formally about such a possibility.

Former world champion and four-time British Grand Prix winner Nigel Mansell, who tasted victory three times in the race at Silverstone, believes it would be "a very sad day" if the circuit no longer hosted grand prix racing.

"Silverstone has the history of F1," the Briton told BBC Sport.

"They deserve to have the recognition for the historical value the circuit has, which has contributed to some incredible races.

"Hopefully the new F1 owners will review their thoughts and think there is a better value to that than throw it away."

Nearly 140,000 spectators watched Britain's triple world champion Lewis Hamilton claim his third consecutive win at Silverstone last year.

A near sell-out crowd is expected again this weekend as Hamilton bids to reduce rival Sebastian Vettel's 20-point lead in the title race.

The circuit, unlike many other tracks on the F1 calendar, receives no government backing.

However, the BRDC have been hit financially by the hosting fee which goes up by five percent every year -- from £12million in 2010, the year in which the new long-term deal started, to £17million this season and £26million in 2026.