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British GP organisers "lacked self-confidence" prior to Liberty Media F1 takeover

Organisers of the British Grand Prix "lacked self-confidence" over the strength of the event prior to the Formula 1 takeover by Liberty Media, according to the boss of Silverstone.

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22

Following the American corporation’s 2017 buyout of the championship, it launched a fan satisfaction survey open to those who attended a race. The British round has topped the list every year apart from 2020, when COVID-19 forced the event to run behind closed doors.

Between 2014 and 2021, the British GP had recorded weekend attendance figures ranging from 340,000 to 356,000. But the 2022 edition increased to a three-day total of 401,000.

Previously, Silverstone worked with the understanding that one-third of its ticket holders would buy again for the following year, leaving it to annually generate most of its audience.

Since that retention rate has now hit 89%, race organisers say they have reconsidered the significance of the GP to Britain and that has provided a new-found level of confidence.

Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle told Autosport: “The circuit has held great grands prix for years and years. Perhaps we lacked a bit of self-confidence a few years ago.

“We didn't appreciate quite how good we were, how loyal our fanbase was, how ingrained it was in our sporting culture in this country. But we have objectively recognised it.

“Helped by Liberty's surveying of the fans, it's given us a great deal of feel-good factor to be told that we're doing a great job and see it coming through in our re-booking numbers.

“Fundamentally, we've got a fantastic core product.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Photo by: James Sutton / Motorsport Images

Unable to influence the on-track timetable and F1's competitiveness, Silverstone has booked headline music acts Calvin Harris and the Black Eyed Peas to aid the 2023 fan experience.

Pringle added that these efforts meant the Red Bull domination of the current campaign did not necessarily pose a major threat to the popularity of future British GPs.

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He said: “The only part of the content of the weekend that we control is the things that go on the main stage. Everything else, everything on the track, comes as is from Formula 1.

“If the championship is a snooze fest because one team is dominating and has done for a number of years, then that's a risk… but we were sold out before the season started.

“[Red Bull’s 100% win record this season] has had no impact. The impact will be in 2024.

“We want the season to come alive. But if the British Grand Prix is a stonker in its own right, then that should give us some security.”

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