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London is still in the running to stage a Formula One race

Adam Reed
  • The 2019 Chinese Grand Prix this weekend marks 1,000 races in the history of Formula One, with the first having taken place in May 1950 at Silverstone in the United Kingdom.
  • A British Grand Prix has been held every year since, but its future is now uncertain.
  • Two years ago, Silverstone decided to activate a break clause in the existing multi-year deal with Formula One, which would mean the there was no British Grand Prix currently scheduled beyond this summer.

A Formula One (F1) race could still be heading to the streets of London, even if a new deal is struck to keep the British Grand Prix at its current home of Silverstone.

It's unlikely that a London-based race would be added as a permanent fixture though, but it's a possibility for one-off events, as owners Liberty Media continue to explore new ways to revamp the sport.

"It will be very difficult to have more than one race in one country," a person with knowledge of the negotiations, who preferred to remain anonymous, told CNBC this week. "However, maybe as a one off, maybe this can happen. Even if we renew with Silverstone, it doesn't mean a race in London is dead."

The 2019 Chinese Grand Prix this weekend marks 1,000 races in the history of Formula One, with the first having taken place in May 1950 at Silverstone in the United Kingdom.

A British Grand Prix has been held every year since, but its future is now uncertain.

Two years ago, Silverstone decided to activate a break clause in the existing multi-year deal with Formula One, which would mean the there was no British Grand Prix currently scheduled beyond this summer.

However, CNBC sources close to deal have said that if negotiations prove to be positive with the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) then a new longer-term agreement would be reached.

Conversations are underway with Silverstone and talks are going in the right direction, according to the sources, but no announcement is expected anytime soon.

A report in the Financial Times this week said that Liberty Media LMCA was close to agreeing a deal, but there was still a debate over the amount payable to the U.S. company for race "promotion fees." Liberty Media is demanding £18 million ($23.5 million) a year, while the BRDC has offered £15 million, according to the FT article.

Earlier this week the former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone expressed his concern for the future of the brand, suggesting that if it was to survive for another 50 years it should embrace electric.

Ecclestone even went as far as to say rival racing company Formula E currently looks the better business proposition moving forward.

"There's more chance there of big, big expansion and more chances commercially than there is of changing things in Formula One," said Ecclestone to Reuters.

It appears this safeguarding is on the agenda for current F1 officials as well. Speaking in a feature for the FIA's Auto magazine, Ross Brawn, F1's managing director of motorsport, promised to continue the push to make the sport "even more spectacular."

"This is an opportunity to trace out a new path for a sport that has few rivals, in terms of the spectacle it offers and its global reach," he explained.

"We want to make Formula One ever more spectacular, with more unpredictable racing and endow it with sustainability, both financially and ecologically. We are all working together to achieve this and I am very optimistic, as we are starting from an incredibly solid base."



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