The future of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone could be under threat because of the "potentially ruinous" costs of hosting the event.
ITV reported on Thursday that circuit owner the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) is considering exercising a break clause at the end of 2019. A letter written by BRDC chairman John Grant -- seen by ITV - informed all members that a decision will be made by "mid-year".
"The board is considering whether we should give notice before the 2017 British GP [as required] of our intention to exercise the break clause in the contract at the end of 2019," wrote Grant. "This is not a simple decision and we shall consider all the implications before coming to a conclusion by mid-year. We have to protect our club against the potentially ruinous risk of a couple of bad years."
Grant added: "Without some change in the economic equation, the risk and return are out of kilter."
Silverstone first hosted the British Grand Prix in 1950 and has been a permanent fixture on the F1 calendar since 1987. A crowd of nearly 140,000 watched Lewis Hamilton take his third consecutive British Grand Prix win in 2016, but Grant admitted the event still fell short of budget. Silverstone declined to comment on the letter but said the 2017, 2018 and 2019 will be unaffected.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told ITV News if Silverstone does opt to pull out of hosting the British GP, the race could still be held at an alternative venue.
"If they want to activate a break clause, there is nothing we can do. Two other tracks have contacted us and we are keen to keep a British Grand Prix, there is no doubt about it, we want to have one."
Three-time world champion Sir Jackie Stewart added: "I think it's a credible threat, not impossible for it to happen. I would be very sad if it did. "There's no other race track that would be able to host the British Grand Prix."