Silverstone Circuit failed to fill the grandstands with the circuit for the British MotoGP Grand Prix, despite the full house in Formula 1 earlier and a grandiose advertising campaign of almost 11 months. Why did this happen, and how do foreign policy and economic factors affect the Royal Motorcycle Races in the most motorcycle country in the world?
According to objective estimates, BritishGP did not count 42,000 people in 2022, compared even with last year’s event (in total for three days). And quite specifically, 15,000 people decided not to go to the race on Sunday. Attendance figures for the British Grand Prix were the worst since 2010 when the race was held in Donington.
Silverstone Circuit director Stuart Pringle considers the losses from the lack of spectators in the stands and is preparing for a rematch in 2023. What do they want, and what can they actually do to save the oldest event in the MotoGP calendar, which is exactly the same age as the championship itself?
The first thing that Pringle names among the main reasons are the recession in England and a significant increase in the cost of living of ordinary Britons, which has had a tremendous impact on spending on entertainment and leisure. England is going through a clear crisis, paying 30% more for gasoline than a year earlier, preparing for a power outage and fuel problems this winter – not up to racing! And Dorna announces ticket prices that are 20-25% higher than they were last year. By comparison, spectator parking at TT Circuit Assen is still free; at Silverstone this year it cost 39 pounds…
“I’m really disappointed, to be honest,” says Stuart Pringle, “the race day was gorgeous, sunny, and warm. But we obviously made a number of mistakes in the organization… I think that the national promoter is thinking about the same thing now – what we need to do next year to attract the attention of people who are more interested in real everyday problems today.”
The political situation in the UK does not allow the boss of Silverstone to say directly what exactly affects the decline in the standard of living of Britons. It cannot be said that Brexit or sanctions hit the British harder than those targeted. It is also impossible to say that tickets are too expensive – this is a Royal sport! But the British do not want to pay for tickets for 150-180 pounds.
“Money alone doesn’t make a show,” Silverstone boss Stuart Pringle admitted.
However, there is also a huge factor that many continue to disbelieve. But Pringle – he definitely believes, because he knows the numbers:
“Dorna has a big, almost impossible task on her hands. It will be extremely difficult to solve it… When Valentino Rossi announced his retirement from MotoGP last year, we immediately noticed a sharp decline in pre-order tickets. We opened sales for 2022 in October, we had 11 months, so I know what I’m talking about. And Rossi fans are still here: yellow is the dominant color in the stands, and this brand is still strong. We urgently need to do something about it.”
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“We would like to support Dorna in all initiatives so that we [in England] have more of our own heroes that the audience is drawn to. An example is Formula 1, of course: Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris and George Russell attracted a huge army of followers to the stands. Personalities continue to move sports to the masses. Formula 1 was amazing, they did their job fantastically well this year, which I can’t say about Dorna’s efforts. They still think it’s some kind of bullshit. But it’s enough to look back at the recent past: the racers have been doing the show for the last 10-12 years. Nothing has changed. Even the cancellation of BritishGP due to force majeure did not affect the audience’s interest, everyone returned to 2019 to see the good old motorcycle races!”- said Pringle.
“We have more money now than we had in 2018. Financial stability has returned after the pandemic, it is possible to make long-term plans again. It’s time to wonder what exactly made MotoGP the championship that attracted hundreds of thousands in the past. We don’t want to lose him! Our efforts as a race organizers were at the same level, we received a positive assessment from Dorna this year. No doubt, that’s not the problem. But we didn’t fill even a third of the seats in the stands on Sunday. We cannot be happy with this outcome. But he can draw conclusions… together with Dorna.”