British GP future: Could any circuits replace Silverstone?


With the future of the British Grand Prix cast into fresh doubt after Silverstone's owners said they were considering dropping out as host, could another venue realistically fill the void?

Only three circuits (Aintree, Brands Hatch, Silverstone) have staged the British Grand Prix since the world championship began in 1950. From Mansell-Mania to Hamilton's hat trick, Silverstone has positioned itself as the home of British motorsport, having become a permanent fixture on the Formula One calendar since 1987.

Would an alternative venue be ready to step in if the Northamptonshire circuit pulled out? ESPN looks at the options...

Donington Park

Donington Park has experience of hosting a grand prix, having held the European Grand Prix in 1993 -- the scene of Ayrton Senna's remarkable opening lap in which the Brazilian scythed his way up to first place from fourth on the grid in wet conditions for McLaren.

In 2008 it was announced that Donington had won a 17-year contract to host the British Grand Prix from July 2010. The East Midlands circuit even gained approval for a track and facility rebuild to be carried out by leading F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke.

After then-owners Donington Ventures Leisure Limited fell into administration no buyer was found to complete the renovations, leaving the circuit resembling a building site. With the ownership back in the hands of the Wheatcroft family, the track has since been rebuilt and modernised, and now hosts regular British Touring Car Championship and British Superbike meetings.

Brands Hatch

Brands Hatch hosted 12 runnings of the British Grand Prix between 1964 and 1986 and is one of the most recognisable and renowned circuits in the UK. The unique track layout -- including the sweeping downhill corner Paddock Hill Bend -- led Gerhard Berger to label Brands Hatch as one of the best circuits in the world.

It is regarded as a classic grand prix circuit and has been the scene of some memorable F1 moments over the years, including James Hunt's controversial on-track win in 1976 -- only to be disqualified two months after the event following rival team protests -- to Nigel Mansell's first victory in 1985.

A deal was agreed for the British Grand Prix to return to the Kent track in the early 2000s but plans ultimately never materialised. A number of factors including noise restrictions, circuit access and substantial redevelopment work to both the track, pits and paddock complex would need to be addressed before the circuit could be considered to host an F1 grand prix again.

Brands Hatch owners Motorsport Vision, who also own fellow British circuits Snetterton and Oulton Park, have declined to comment on speculation linking them with the future of the British Grand Prix.

Rockingham Motor Speedway

Northamptonshire track Rockingham is far from your average UK race circuit. With unique banked oval and infield sections, coupled with tall grandstands, Rockingham provides fantastic vantage points for spectators with nearly all of the circuit visible from the main grandstand.

As the UK's newest track, Rockingham boasts up-to-date facilities but would still require major updates to be in a position to host F1 racing. Similar to Brands Hatch, circuit access can be problematic, while the American-style garage layout, which is separate from the pit lane, would need a complete redesign.

F1 teams regularly use the circuit for filming days but it would take plenty of work before F1 cars could be hurtling around the banking in full-race trim.

Circuit of Wales

Less realistic options include the proposed Circuit of Wales, with the major stumbling block being that building work is yet to commence at the Ebbw Vale site, which would cost £425m to create.

The planned venue was halted by the Welsh government's refusal to underwrite private investment last year. Despite holding rights to host Britain's MotoGP round until 2024, a non-existent circuit means Silverstone continues to stage the pinnacle of two-wheeled racing for the foreseeable future.

However, the project could be back on track, having just signed a deal with sports company Extreme to become the circuit's new business partner and help oversee development of the sporting, leisure and entertainment facility.

London Grand Prix

A grand prix around the streets of London has been murmured for several years and has the backing of chief supporter and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, but the logistical nightmare that would come with hosting a race in England's capital means it is highly unlikely we will be watching F1 cars racing around the city's streets anytime soon.

Formula E has already blazed that trail to some extent, having hosted a race around Battersea Park for the past two years. However, the all-electric series has had to cancel this year's race following a tug-of-war with the local council. Considering Formula E's far smaller site to what an F1 race would require, it gives an indication as to just how big a task F1 would face to host a full-scale grand prix event in central London.

It is worth noting in order to host an F1 race, a track must hold a Grade 1 licence from the FIA. At present Silverstone is the only circuit in the UK which holds Grade 1 status, however a number of British circuits listed in this article fall under the Grade 2 listing -- which would require substantial redevelopment in order to qualify for the top category.

With the 2017, 2018 and 2019 races not under threat, F1 has three years to find a possible solution if Silverstone -- seemingly the only realistic choice for hosting grands prix in the UK -- decided against staging the race, or the British Grand Prix could be lost from the calendar altogether.