Silverstone Circuit’s Managing Director, Stuart Pringle, has revealed his delight that this year’s British Grand Prix is almost a sell-out and his excitement over the new investment into facilities at the historic track.
Speaking at the Autosport International Show, Pringle confirmed that the race in July is all but sold out, with only limited tickets remaining. This is a big change in fortunes from year’s gone by, despite the technical difficulties that they faced.
“There are a handful of tickets available still…the more fully priced ones. It was incredibly popular, it’s a very good problem to have that they are now selling so quickly.
“We had some challenges, Glastonbury had some challenges, a lot of people have had challenges. There seems to be a huge realisation amongst all of us that since Covid and we stopped going to things, we had time to think and realise how much we missed them.
A new addition to the circuit is the ‘Escapade’ accommodation overlooking one of the most iconic series of corners in the world. On the official Silverstone website, ‘Escapade’ is described as “60 luxury residences and clubhouse to share in the passion and excitement in the heart of British motor racing.”
For Pringle, it’s a huge boost to the set-up at Silverstone.
“Nobody is doing that in the UK, it’s not happening in other places around Europe. You will be able to stay at the circuit with a balcony overlooking maggots and beckets every day of the year.
“Of course, it will be full champagne corporates on Grand Prix day but actually it’s a huge support to our track day activities, our driving experiences and club meetings.”
He also revealed plans for a new karting track within the Silverstone complex, allowing people to say they have raced at Silverstone, only on a much more affordable scale. This mean’s that many people’s dreams can be made true, unlike in other sports.
“You can’t go to Wimbledon and have a knock-up, you can’t go to Wembley and have a kickaround on the turf, but we support the national motor racing scene here in Great Britain because it’s important.”
The new circuit will also be available to the public to just turn up and drive, giving greater access to the historic complex and bringing the public closer to the world of motorsport.
You can’t pay the bills by just doing sporting karting, in the same way, you can’t pay the bills of a motor circuit just by having race meetings. You need to do these other activities, so absolutely it will be arrive and drive.”
The 2022 BDRC Young Driver award was won by GB3 Champion Luke Browning, helping to give him a financial boost and experience driving the Aston Martin Formula One car. There have been some previous winners that have made it all the way to Formula One and Pringle understands the importance of having a strong bunch of young British drivers.
“We need to keep the pipeline coming. The BRDC puts a huge amount of effort into supporting young drivers and it’s no coincidence that two previous winners of the award that the BRDC and Autosport support, George Russell and Lando Norris are both now in Formula One.
“They are driving the turnstiles. Any sports promoter will tell you that is a massive help to have a home hero and we are very proud of the fact that we have three.”
The Formula One weekend has been a standard Friday-Sunday for quite some time, with the Sprint format being the biggest shake-up in recent times. However, Pringle wants Silverstone to become more like a festival of motorsport and for this to happen, he wants the race weekend to be over four days, rather than three.
“We are working hard to extend the weekend. I’m working hard on Formula One, telling them that they need to change the format of the weekend, but they say ‘oh it’s the FIA’ and they need to do system testing etc. Do them a day earlier and get some stuff on track on a Thursday.
“There are a lot of people that want to come and see things and quite frankly, three days isn’t enough.”
Despite being the home to the British Grand Prix for many decades, it hasn’t always been easy. Donington Park has frequently been in the conversation about taking over hosting rights and even a race on the streets of London has been mentioned. However, times have changed and Silverstone is in a much stronger position now.
“It’s a huge change in our fortunes. It’s such a commitment to run the Grand Prix, the fee is eyewatering and the cost of delivery keeps you awake at night and the fixed costs bill is extraordinarily high as a result.”
“It’s a given that you are going to sell out on Sunday. We got to selling out the Saturday a few years back. Now the Friday is all but gone as well. That’s where your profit is and if you don’t make a profit, you cannot reinvest in the infrastructure.
The success of the past few races, despite the break with the Covid pandemic, has allowed the BRDC to improve the Silverstone Circuit, something that it badly needed to keep up with some of the other iconic and modern circuits around the world.
“Silverstone is creaking and groaning because the BRDC was unable to make a profit for 40 years. Now I’m pleased to say the owners of Formula One are taking a sensible view that it isn’t in their interest to crush the promoter. They also recognise that the BRDC invests all of its money back into the facilities and if we put more into better facilities, it’s a better experience for the fans and as a result, it’s better for the Championship overall.”