With continued speculation over new additions to the F1 calendar, Silverstone remain confident that they are doing enough to prove why they should remain on the schedule. The historic circuit has a contract with Formula 1 until 2024, while the future of some events in the line-up is currently unclear, with the likes of Monaco and Belgium yet to sign deals beyond 2022. Ahead of the British Grand Prix, the venue's Managing Director, Stuart Pringle, spoke exclusively to RacingNews365.com about the circuit's plans, their efforts towards sustainability and why the prospect of rotating with another race on the calendar is not an appealing one.
How Silverstone provides a show with a "uniquely British feel"
Formula 1 continues to expand into new locations, with a particular focus on the United States; the inaugural Miami Grand Prix took place in May, while Las Vegas will host an F1 race on the 2023 calendar, meaning that there will be three events in America next season. Despite this, Pringle is confident that Silverstone continues to hold a unique spot in the schedule, deserving of a continued stay in Formula 1. "I think we're doing the right things," Pringle explained. "Formula 1 seem to be pretty happy with our commitment and our effort. It's very clear the direction that they want to see things going in. "Miami was a very big hint. Las Vegas will be a totally different level of show. I don't want to be pushed into an American box. I want to provide the show that they're looking for, with a uniquely British feel, and I think we can do that. "I think we're halfway there, actually, because we've already got that festival vibe, with 45,000 people camping locally, we've got decent music artists. people staying on site, huge amount of entertainment, all underpinned by a fantastic motor race. "It's a source of much amusement that you get all these amazing CAD-designed modern circuits, and actually, the one where it's scribing lines on an airfield chart in pencil actually throws up better racing."
Destination cities vs traditional circuits
Silverstone may hold that "uniquely British feel", but Pringle would love to welcome more international visitors to the venue. However, he acknowledges the expenses involved for those fans. "I'd love to see more overseas visitors," he commented. "At the moment, we are 97/98 per cent UK fans, which is extraordinary. I'd love to see more. We're quite expensive compared with some other European races, and you add in cost of travel, cost of accommodation, and the weather, and you've got to be pretty hardcore. "And visas [for some international visitors]. You can see why actually they don't [visit here]. Barcelona, we all know, [offers] a couple of days on the beach, super cool city, wonderful meals, watch some racing, and great weather." "We don't have that same allure." Pringle feels that Silverstone holds an edge over some "destination" cities that may feature on the calendar, though, in terms of the motor racing spectacle. "I know that Formula 1 want destination cities and stuff," he added. "But actually, you get a much better motor race on a proper traditional circuit, and I think that we are pretty close to providing what is the answer."
Silverstone staking a claim on place in F1
Pringle is confident that Silverstone holds a valuable place in the Formula 1 schedule, particularly due to its blending of history with a look to the future. "I think we are staking a really good claim that actually this [venue] has got its own unique identity," Pringle continued. "It's got the tradition, but it's also moving with the times." A key aspect of this is a continued focus on sustainability, with the use of solar power being extended across buildings at the track amongst other measures. "We are already the most sustainable race on the calendar," Pringle said. "Because there's no long haul aviation. Seven out of 10 race teams come [from] 20 minutes [away], and even those that do come from overseas are only driving 1,000 kilometres with road freight. "We're 97 per cent local, and we [have] 45,000 people camping, so they're not coming in and out over three days. In three days, the audience is coming in once and leaving once."
Pringle not keen on idea of rotational calendar
Pringle goes on to reiterate: "Silverstone: the most sustainable race. Silverstone: the most traditional. Silverstone: amongst the most exciting – you don't often get a duffer at Silverstone. "Huge crowd, huge importance to the broadcasters, sponsors, VIPs, business in general. [The] Paddock Club has never been so busy here. "And I'm making maximum effort with entertainments and to create that amazing moment, and [we're] self-sustaining. "I think we're in a pretty healthy place. Also we're now financially self-sufficient, cash-generative, as a business over the course of 12 months, and that's a wholly different place. "We're building our balance sheet rather than slowly eroding it, and that's a massive relief." With more venues being added to the F1 calendar, there has been speculation over the possibility of rotating races between years. Pringle, though, has dismissed this as being an unviable idea for Silverstone. "Absolute non-starter for us," he stated. "You can't run a permanent Grade 1 FIA circuit on commercial terms without the revenue receipts every year. You can't have the bills one year but not the revenue one year."