Thursday’s announcement of a new 10-year deal with Formula 1 to keep the British GP at Silverstone until at least 2034 was good news for everyone.

Recent months have seen more and more venues sign up for the long term. The number of races with their slots guaranteed until at least 2030 is in double figures, with Melbourne leading the way thanks to its 2037 end date.

On the F1 side, the longer deals give the organisation a steady flow of race-hosting fee income that stretches way into the future.

For the race promoters, it was starting to look a little like a game of musical chairs, given that the schedule is unlikely to ever expand beyond 24 or at most 25 events. Blink and you’ll miss out.

Once Suzuka was confirmed until 2029 earlier this month, Silverstone was left at the last venue with a contract ending in 2024 and no guaranteed slot beyond this season.

The Japanese GP news came shortly after the popular Barcelona circuit was dumped in favour of a Madrid street race from 2026, and with talk of a London event bubbling away in the background.

If any British fans were getting a little nervous, they need not have worried. It was all in hand, and just a matter of when the Silverstone announcement would be made.

The bottom line is that while F1 may be exploring new markets and pursuing more and more city tracks, its CEO Stefano Domenicali is well aware that the sport has to maintain a core of traditional venues.

That also explains why Suzuka’s future was secured in the face of tentative interest from a potential street race in nearby Osaka.

Japanese GP 2023 race start

As the home race of seven of the teams, plus the F1 organisation itself with its offices, Silverstone has a special place in the natural hierarchy of venues.

"I never thought anyone was going to gazump the British Grand Prix,” says circuit CEO Stuart Pringle.

“It's 75 years old in 2025. It's one of the best races of the year, most years. It's the highest attended, or thereabouts. It's hugely popular with the teams who are based locally, and it is the most sustainable race by virtue of there being virtually no air travel by the teams to get here, and a 98% UK audience.

“We add great value to the championship, and we more than pay our way. I was always confident about our position.”

Experience paramount after Vegas hardship

Pringle says that the regular announcements about contract extensions for other venues didn’t add any extra urgency to negotiations with F1 and experience favours Silverstone.

“What's pretty clear is that F1 values experience", he adds. "There's a lot of risk associated with bringing new promoters in. It's not easy. They found out first-hand when Liberty Media promoted Las Vegas that there are challenges.

“I think they did a fantastic job, by the way. I was there, and I thought it was an exceptionally good Grand Prix. But it's very, very hard. And it's fraught with risk. 

Las Vegas GP 2023 race start

"And there's a lot of retained knowledge in this business and a lot of experience between the top three of us that run the Grand Prix. Myself, our operations director and our circuit manager, we've delivered over 80 Grands Prix between the three of us. So there's a lot of knowledge, and that has a value.”

Just as Pringle wasn’t worried about losing out to a bid from another country, he didn’t have any concerns about a potential threat from any proposal for a London race.

"No one's going to pay them any more money,” he says. “You couldn't do it. Your costs are off the clock. There's no backing in the UK for the public money support. It was just on every level a load of hot air.

"And I could spend an hour with you taking apart every argument. It was always nonsense. And we certainly did not feel pressured into signing anything because of that.

“We signed it because it was the right thing to do for Silverstone. And F1 were particularly keen to secure Silverstone on the calendar for the long term.”

A surprising long-term deal

If there was any surprise related to Thursday’s announcement, it was the duration of the deal. Silverstone usually signs up for five years, and the recent Suzuka contract extension was for a similar length, indicating that not everyone is able to commit to the long term, or indeed is being encouraged to do so by F1.

Given the huge financial outlay represented by a 10-year commitment, were there any risks involved for Silverstone?

"There's a lot less risk associated with a long-term deal than there is with not having a race,” says Pringle. “And if you mean will there be ebbs and flows over a 10-year period? Yeah, absolutely.

“But I look back at 74 years of F1 racing at Silverstone and it's always been pretty popular. Obviously, we did our sums, and we know how many people we'd need to get in each year as a minimum.

“But we're lucky, aren't we? The BRDC is committed to young driver programmes like the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Award, which has produced George Russell and Lando Norris in recent times, while we had Ollie Bearman and Luke Browning going head-to-head a couple of years ago, and they are now doing great things in junior categories.

George Russell, Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton at Singapore GP 2023

"There's proper quality coming through. And look at the clamouring around the Lewis Hamilton/Ferrari announcement. That wasn't factored into our consideration when we signed the contract.

“Nothing's for certain, but the structure of the sport in this country is such that we have pretty good confidence that we'll be able to generate home heroes, and fundamentally that’s the most important part.”

Investing and improving the site

Another key driver of the 10-year deal was the continuity it provides, helping to give the circuit the confidence to invest in the future.

"What we wanted a longer-term contract for was to allow us to really continue and to increase our investment in the regeneration of the Silverstone site,” says Pringle. 

“There's a lot we want to do to make sure that Silverstone remains a world-class sporting venue, and you need certainty over your future business to be able to do that. So that was really the main driver."

The circuit has plans that include the F1 equivalent of a stadium tour, a kart track, a simulator facility, and a bigger stage.

Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg at British GP 2023

“Then there's all the unglamorous things,” adds Pringle. “There's a lot of stuff that we need to do, which isn't very glamorous – resurfacing the ring road, upgrading the water and power and sewage.

“When you're dealing with the sort of numbers that we're dealing with, you've got to have your infrastructure right, and we weren't in a position to address that for several decades prior to now."

Pringle is adamant that the future for Silverstone can only be brighter, perhaps with a little extra help from Hollywood.

“Having been the home to most of the filming, the Brad Pitt F1 film is going to do for Silverstone what Lord of the Rings did for New Zealand,” he suggests. 

“It's going to absolutely make us a tourist destination, and confirm it as the birthplace of F1 and the centre of it."