There will be a Extraordinary General Meeting of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, probably on March 16, to allow the members of the club to vote on whether to push ahead with a plan to sell the circuit to Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). The deal would provide the club with the money it needs to become financial secure in the long term. BRDC chairman John Grant presented the plan to members yesterday at Silverstone and the word is that the concept was viewed favourably by those present and so the idea will move forwards. It is clear that no deal has yet been finalised and that the devil may be in the detail, particularly in relation to Silverstone’s commitment with the Formula One group to host the British GP until 2026.
The plan would be for JLR to buy the circuit and then lease it back to the BRDC so that racing could continue. JLR would develop areas of the land and would be able to gain access to the various circuits as and when it needed them. However, the British GP is a problem because it would not be anything to do with JLR and the BRDC would have to take on the liabilities of the event. This would create a risk for the long-term future of the club. There are break clauses in the British GP contract which might be actioned by the BRDC, but the club is committed to keep international racing at the track, so that will not be an easy thing to solve. There is also the question of who would pay for upgrade work if that was required by the FIA and FIM. If the race contracts were BRDC business, there is no reason why JLR would want to pay for them. Obviously all this needs to be sorted out before pen can get to paper.
The deal could secure the future of the BRDC, but it might be at the cost of the British Grand Prix. Having said that, Formula One has no real options for a race in Britain because none of the other circuits could (or would) afford the fees and a race in London, for example would need someone to pay for it and it is very clear that politicians are not about to use public money to make the Formula One group richer. They might pay for roadworks, up to a point, but private money would be required for there to be a race and there are very few promoters in F1 making money and so finding someone willing to lose money is going to be a struggle. Such a scheme would only work with a company that had other interests, such as hotels or shops, in much the same was as happens in Singapore.