Silverstone have finally signed a £100million five-year contract to save the British Grand Prix, but even as they announced their landmark deal had their tails tweaked about a race in London.
Talks ended on Tuesday night with both sides — F1's owners Liberty Media, Silverstone and their landlords, the British Racing Drivers' Club — signing on the dotted line. The arrangement protects the oldest race on the calendar until 2024, meaning Sunday's edition will not be the last at the revamped Second World War bomber station.
But Chase Carey, F1 chairman, has refused to concede his ambition to take the sport to London. This aim was, as Sportsmail
reported last month, a major deterrent to Silverstone committing to a new contract. They feared some of their crowd — and thus revenue — would be lost to a rival up the road.
'It is well recorded that we have ongoing discussions with London and we look forward to continuing those,' said Carey defiantly, while flanked by BRDC chairman John Grant and Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle. 'It will be a different experience and we will see where that takes us.'
Grant said: 'We have had frank and open discussions with F1 and they understand our concerns. So we have come up with a set of arrangements which protect our interests if London becomes a reality. There is room for the two races to co-exist as long as they have sufficient separation in time and our commercial interests are recognised.'
Despite the threat of a London race, it was a day of celebration for officials at Silverstone, where a record crowd of more than 140,000 will come to Sunday's race, in which Lewis Hamilton will aim for a record sixth home win.
The BRDC triggered a release clause as the cost of hosting the race, rising to £26m under their old deal, left them in financial peril. The new £20m-a-season sum is more manageable.
The contract renewal marks one of the high points in Carey's three-year tenure. 'We have been clear that this is one of our signature races,' added Carey. 'This is one of the foundation races of Formula One, so we always wanted to reach an agreement.'
Hamilton will arrive at Silverstone on Thursday to hear the good news fresh from downtime in Los Angeles.