MILTON KEYNES, England (Reuters) - Silverstone’s departure from the Formula One calendar would be a “shocking loss” but it could clear the way for a street race in London, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said on Tuesday.
The capital is hosting a big Formula One promotional event on Wednesday, ahead of the weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, and the sport has long dreamed of racing there.
A decision by the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) on Tuesday to activate a break clause in Silverstone’s contract has revived such talk, however fanciful it may sound to many observers.
“Silverstone is a wonderful track. The teams and the drivers love driving there and (F1 owners) Liberty (Media) has made a commitment that there will be a British Grand Prix,” Horner told reporters at the Red Bull factory.
“But with this London event happening tomorrow, if that was a success – which hopefully it should be - one can imagine a London Grand Prix being pretty attractive to the Liberty guys.
“It would not be difficult to imagine Liberty thinking ‘why don’t we do a street race in the capital?’”.
John Grant, the BRDC chairman, dismissed that idea.
“Most informed observers would say a London event is just not feasible - politically, environmentally or commercially,” he told Reuters.
Silverstone, a former World War Two airfield, hosted the first world championship grand prix in 1950 and with Monza, Monaco and Spa forms part of a core group of historic tracks.
Brands Hatch, Aintree and Donington Park have also hosted F1 in Britain but only Silverstone now has the necessary infrastructure.
Horner, who is a member of the BRDC without playing an active role, said the body had clearly got its maths wrong when it signed the original deal with former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and further mistakes were made along the way.
“They spent a fortune on the pits and they put them in the wrong place,” he said.
“They have created a paddock with zero atmosphere at one of the most historic race tracks in the UK, so there has been some serious misjudgement and management one would say.”
Silverstone’s future has long been clouded, with Ecclestone regularly berating the BRDC in the past, but Horner expressed amazement that a contract that was secured with so much sweat had been broken.
“It would be shocking to lose Silverstone from the calendar, It would be even more shocking to lose a British GP when you consider 80 per cent of the teams are based within the UK and how much the UK contributes to Formula One,” he said.
Editing by Ed Osmond