‘I don’t know what the Saudis pay’: Silverstone CEO makes admission about British GP contract talks

Silverstone will once again play host to the British Grand Prix this weekend.

Chief executive officer of the Silverstone circuit, Stuart Pringle, has revealed that he has not yet opened negotiations with Formula 1 over extending the track’s deal.

The contract which sees Silverstone host the British Grand Prix will expire in 2024, and it is the scene of the first-ever championship grand prix in 1950.

That was won by Giuseppe Farina for Alfa Romeo, and 29 winners have since been added to that list at the iconic track, including Sir Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen from the current grid.

It has played host to 57 races but, with a geographic shift taking place in F1, there is a real risk of many European races – even those that define the sport – being abandoned, so the run of races in Towcester may stop at 60 in a couple of years’ time.

Pringle hopes that F1 would be eager to have the legendary racetrack on the calendar for many more years to come.

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“We haven’t spoken to Formula 1 yet about the future about the next contract,” he told Express Sport.

“I would be extraordinarily disappointed if they weren’t enthusiastic to have it.

“Formula 1 tells us we are doing a great job, and they tell us that because their fans tell them that. So that’s a very good basis, if we were doing a bad job then that would be a concern.”

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Silverstone sued Aggregate Industries earlier this year for $10 million for what was described as the “worst resurfacing job ever” back in 2018.

The asphalt was re-laid ahead of the MotoGP race that year, but the drainage was so bad that, as soon as it rained, there were copious amounts of standing water on the track.

The event therefore had to be cancelled, and the circuit lost a hefty amount of money in gate receipts as a result.

The track in Northamptonshire does not have the money that a lot of circuits around the world do, but it is the substance of Silverstone, not just the cash, that should stand out.

“We’ve enhanced the facilities here like nothing else,” explained Pringle.

“Am I nervous? I back ourselves to state our case.

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“We’re certainly never complacent. We never assume that we are secure forever in a day on the calendar. I think you are only as good as the event you’re putting on because the value in Formula 1 is the event.

“Everybody gets very focussed on fees and money, not that anybody knows what these fees are. I don’t know what the Saudis pay, I’ve no idea what anyone else pays. 

“There’s always a lot of talk about that, can Silverstone compete?

“Actually, I think we do compete on all sorts of levels and I think there are many elements which should be measured not simply the size of the cheque.”

As a circuit that draws in enormous crowds and promotes excellent racing, Silverstone is always one of the best venues the pinnacle of motorsport visits.

“We’ve got a fantastic track that throws up great racing, better racing than the street circuits,” said Pringle.

“We have got all the benefits of history and heritage. We have, if not the biggest crowds of the year, we are always in the top two or three.”

Along with Silverstone, Monza is out of contract in two years, while Belgium, France, Austria, Monaco and Mexico do not currently have deals in place for next year.