The landscape of Formula One has changed dramatically in recent years, with new regulations and an increased focus on sustainability driving the series towards a more exciting future. In 2021, the FIA Formula One World Championship™ returns to the United Kingdom for the first time since 1939, with a race at Silverstone. Ahead of the highly anticipated event, we take a look at the ownership of this iconic circuit, along with the other Formula One venues that have been host to the pinnacle of motorsport.
History Of The Speedway
The first motor racing venue in the United Kingdom was the London Sporting Club in Hendon, North London. The track began hosting meetings in 1907, with professional motorsport making its debut in the country just four years later. In those early days, the venue was nothing more than a simple oval shape with no specific design elements, which gave it the nickname ‘The Dirt Track’.
The growth in popularity of motor racing in England during the 1910s and 20s led to a number of other tracks being built throughout the country, mostly in a similar vein to the London track. This was most notably the case in Birmingham, where Jack Rowe built a 1.2-mile triangle course that was initially used for motorcycle racing. The venue opened its gates to F1 in 1929, with the country making a significant impression on the world stage that year, winning the World War One military championship.
Before the days of the World War Two, the United Kingdom was one of the most popular countries for racing, with many famous tracks drawing large crowds of spectators. After the conflict, interest in motorsport declined and many tracks, including Silverstone, were closed. The country did not witness Formula One till the 1970s when the series returned for a couple of races. The sport did not return for another 23 years, making the 1972-1985 period the longest break in Silverstone’s history. The modern incarnation of the track was officially opened in 1986, with the country once again showing incredible passion for motor racing.
Ownership Of Silverstone And The Other Tracks
As well as hosting the UK’s premier motorsport event, Silverstone Park is also the location of the headquarters of the ruling Formula One governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). This is made possible by a partnership between the English government and the private sector, with the land being bought by the British Racing Drivers’ Club in 1897.
It was originally known as the BRDC Motor Speedway and, at the time, was one of the largest car tracks in the world. Since then, the facility has held races over a variety of distances and formats, hosting World Championship Grands Prix and numerous F1 tests. The most recent addition to the circuit’s portfolio is the 3.9-mile Grand Prix course, which hosts the British Grand Prix every summer.
The circuit is currently owned by Team Grand Prix Ltd, headed by British tycoon Bernie Ecclestone and controlled by the Formula One Group, a commercial organization that owns and operates the sport worldwide. The team, along with Silverstone and the other tracks that host the pinnacle of motorsport, provide a steady stream of revenue for the sport, with the United Kingdom a key market for F1. As well as the Grand Prix season, the UK also sees a number of other sports and cultural events throughout the year, such as the MotoGP UK Championship, which is held at the Northern Circuit and the British Superbike Championship, which visits the Brands Hatch circuits in Kent. In 2020, Sky Sports will broadcast every race in the UK, further increasing the popularity of the sport in the country.
Sustainability Inline With Other Changes
The landscape of Formula One has changed dramatically in recent years, with new regulations and an increased focus on sustainability driving the series towards a more exciting future. In 2021, the FIA Formula One World Championship™ will return to the United Kingdom for a race at Silverstone. The series made its way to the UK for the first time in 1939 and has returned regularly since, with this year marking the 80th anniversary of the national sport in England. As a result of these changes, the country’s most historic venue has seen significant upgrades to ensure the venue is fit for purpose and meets the demands of modern day drivers and teams.
The iconic Grand Prix racing track at Silverstone has been totally refurbished, with a new paddock, medical centre, VIP enclosure and office spaces being delivered by a team of contractors, led by BILD Architects. The project saw the addition of a purpose-built driver development zone, with the existing paddock receiving significant overhauls, including new fencing, signage and lighting. As part of sustainability efforts, a bespoke energy management system has been implemented, with energy-saving measures such as motion-sensor lighting, heat-recovery showers and heat-sensitive temperature controls implemented throughout the 80-acre site. Solar power and onsite landfill gas capture also contribute to sustainable efforts at the track.
The United Kingdom does not just see F1 races every year, with thousands of motorsport enthusiasts and fans traveling from overseas to witness the spectacular events. The country has become a regular stop for Formula One, with international visitors continuing to play a crucial role in the series’ success. The United Kingdom is a popular touring destination for motorsport fans, with large numbers of people traveling from overseas to see the iconic Grand Prix races and other sporting events, such as the Boat Race, which is also seen on TV around the world. Millions of pounds are pumped into the local economy due to the increased visitor numbers. With the country producing some of the most successful and innovative motorsport competitors globally, it is clear that the English love for fast cars, fine dining and superyachts does not die.