London race puts British GP in jeopardy as Hamilton insists F1 MUST stay at Silverstone

Formula One’s owners are in talks with the London mayor to stage a race in the capital — a high-stakes gamble that could inadvertently spell the end of the British Grand Prix.

Silverstone and their owners, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), are understood to want written assurances that they have exclusive claims on the famous race, ideally before its potential final running on July 14.

This year’s event is due to be the last held there after the historic Northamptonshire track activated a break clause to escape a crippling fee to host the race.

This year's British GP is due to be the last held at Silverstone, after they activated break clause

This year's British GP is due to be the last held at Silverstone, after they activated break clause

This year’s British GP is due to be the last held at Silverstone, after they activated break clause

Formula One's owners are in talks with London mayor Sadiq Khan over hosting race in capital

Formula One's owners are in talks with London mayor Sadiq Khan over hosting race in capital

Formula One’s owners are in talks with London mayor Sadiq Khan over hosting race in capital

Silverstone and the BRDC declined to comment on the status of negotiations with F1 owners Liberty Media, but a spokesman for the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, confirmed: ‘London is always open to hosting the world’s biggest and best sport events.

‘The mayor believes it should be possible to organise a race in London in the future and has asked his team to explore options with F1.’

The Royal Docks, in the east London Borough of Newham, is being looked at as a potential site.

Silverstone have spent the last two years trying to renegotiate better terms with Liberty, who demand payment from circuit promoters for inclusion on the calendar.

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Bagaman Sportsmail understands Silverstone have been offered a new multi-year deal on better terms than the contract agreed with the sport’s former supremo Bernie Ecclestone, the sticking point is Liberty’s desire to host a second race in Britain.

While the prospect of F1 cars racing around London’s streets holds obvious allure, the downside is that Silverstone’s margins are so tight they cannot jeopardise their commercial position by binding themselves to a long-term contract while Liberty try to stage a rival grand prix 90 minutes down the road.

Sportsmail understands Silverstone has been offered a new multi-year deal on better terms

Sportsmail understands Silverstone has been offered a new multi-year deal on better terms

Sportsmail understands Silverstone has been offered a new multi-year deal on better terms

Champion Lewis Hamilton insists that British Grand Prix must stay at 'awesome' Silverstone

Champion Lewis Hamilton insists that British Grand Prix must stay at 'awesome' Silverstone

Champion Lewis Hamilton insists that British Grand Prix must stay at ‘awesome’ Silverstone

At the same time, there are numerous hurdles, including environmental and disruption concerns, to be cleared before London can conceivably host F1.

Indeed, London has been linked with staging a race for 20 years — at venues from Hyde Park to Battersea Park, the Olympic Stadium to The Mall — none of which has gone significantly beyond the draft stage.

It is, therefore, possible that Liberty could end up with nowhere to host a British Grand Prix, the first world championship race ever staged, in 1950. Silverstone welcomed 340,000 people through its gates during last year’s race weekend, including 140,500 on the Sunday — a record for F1 anywhere in the world in 2018.

World champion Lewis Hamilton, who has won the British Grand Prix five times, said: ‘The UK is the foundation of what this sport is and if you start taking away the legendary races and it’s all just new ones, you lose all the history and culture of Formula One.

‘So I truly believe they have to keep Formula One in the UK and particularly Silverstone. It’s such an awesome track and such an awesome place.’

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