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Silverstone boss: "I wonder if the F1 product is right for the fans?"

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Silverstone boss: "I wonder if the F1 product is right for the fans?"
Apr 28, 2015, 4:01 PM

Patrick Allen, the new managing director of Silverstone Circuit, home of the British Grand Prix, has called on the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone to "im...

Patrick Allen, the new managing director of Silverstone Circuit, home of the British Grand Prix, has called on the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone to "improve the product of F1" to ensure the long term sustainability of the sport and the circuits that host it.

Speaking at a media briefing ahead of July's British Grand Prix, Allen said that although Silverstone is 26% up on sales and 20% up on revenues compared to this time last year, he worries that the sport can sustain the long term interest of fans, as it is too technical and not competitive enough,

Patrick Allen

"What I see in F1 is a bit of a procession," said Allen. "How interesting is that? I wonder whether the technical directors should go on the podium because it's all about the car. And how easy are they to drive if Verstappen can go straight from F3 into F1? It would be good if it were more competitive.

"Fans come to F1 to see racing, not people looking at data screens.

"I'd rather the FIA would give us a better product, using the rules.

"I wonder if the F1 product is right for the fans, if we start seeing numbers falling away, fans losing interest, things can unravel pretty fast."

Allen took over six months ago, with Stuart Pringle in a new management team with a new Chief Financial Officer due to join shortly; and he has moved Silverstone onto a stronger commercial footing via innovative ticket sales events like short term sales of £99 tickets and the recent £120 weekend tickets, which sold 3,500 in a day.

He comes from the retail sector, having worked at the Co-Operative and he favours a volume model generating cash margin, rather than a premium model where there are very few, but high price tickets.

Silverstone is expecting 130,000 people on race day this year, of whom Allen hopes between 90,000 and 100,000 will be paying spectators. The circuit is 1,000 sales short today of the total sales of last year's Grand Prix, with two months to go to the event.

"I'm trying to bring pricing down," adds Allen, explaining that after this year's race he will launch a Jet2 airlines type promotion where the earlier you buy your 2016 ticket the cheaper it will be.

Silverstone has a long term deal with F1 to at least 2020, but it is aware of the threat to the European circuits, with France already off the calendar, Germany missing this year and the Italian Grand Prix at Monza under serious threat as F1 follows the money to new markets.

"Unless the FIA stand up and say 'No, you cannot do this to thins circuit,' then the march will go on for the mighty dollar in the East," he said. I'd like to see more bite from the FIA; if you have a governing body, then it should govern."

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