Start, Silverstone, 2019

Decision whether British GP can go ahead is “weeks” away

2020 F1 season

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Silverstone will not be able to confirm for several weeks whether the British Grand Prix can go ahead behind closed doors.

Formula 1 intends to race at Silverstone following a season-opening event at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on July 5th.

The British Grand Prix promoters originally set themselves a deadline of the end of April to decide whether the race would go ahead. This was the latest they could wait before committing to an event with a full crowd.

However, having now accepted the race must be held without fans if it does go ahead, the decision on whether the British Grand Prix will go ahead can be taken much later.

“We don’t actually know whether or not we have a race behind closed doors,” Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle told the BBC. “I need to be clear on that.”

Whether the race can go ahead depends on the circuit getting the necessary approval from the government and agreeing terms with F1, which are understood to include remuneration for lost ticket sales.

“We need to understand from the government the criteria that need to be achieved to be allowed to run a sporting event behind closed doors. And I’m working with with the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport and with the governing body Motorsport UK to establish whether or not we can comply with those and meet them and surpass them.

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“We also have to reach an agreement with the Formula 1 world championship. That’s not the work of a moment. There’s absolutely the desire on the part of both parties to make that happen but it’s it’s complicated, it’s contractual, and it’s it will take a few more days, probably weeks to get there.”

In the meantime Pringle said Silverstone is working on how to adapt the logistics of a public event which welcomes over 100,000 people to one which can be held with the minimum possible staff.

“We were scaled up and that [meant] a lot of people. Just directly reporting to me with everybody that comes in it’s some 7,000 people that deliver the public elements and then there’s about the same again that work on the sporting side.

“But we also need to understand what would need to be in place to run a a safe and secure event behind closed doors. And that will include things that we don’t normally do, like testing for Covid-19 and various medical procedures.

“So there’s a whole heap of work and it’s having to be done now by an awful lot less people that would normally do it and I’m becoming quite familiar with the wee small hours of the morning to try to get through the through the volume. But that’s no hardship.

“We’ve just got to get some clarity and see whether we can get at least a race behind closed doors. I think we’ll all enjoy that, it’ll be something for our summer even if we can’t be there in person.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 6 comments on “Decision whether British GP can go ahead is “weeks” away”

    1. Nice to see a much more detailed indication on just how much will be involved just to get the 1 race happening, if it can happen.

      I don’t envy his task at all – be worse than herding cats.

      1. Indeed, but if they can hold one, they can hold many.

        1. Doesn’t mean that they should….

    2. A complicated task indeed even to get a single spectator-less race to go ahead. I can only imagine how the people working on it must be feeling about it.

    3. Wow, that is an awful lot of people just for the ‘sporting side’.

    4. The concept of holding a Grand Prix event behind closed doors is abhorrent to many and pretty much everyone else is concerned it will be a flop. Hold on for a second … he says.
      What is arguably the largest sporting event in the world, the quadrennial glitz-fest called the Olympics, is for the most part, a collection of events taking place behind closed doors or with a minimum of spectators.
      For the Winter events, pretty much all the skiing events are blocked from view save for the crossing of the finish line. Whopee.
      Same for many of the XC events, Biathalon, moguls, sliding events, and the list goes on. Yes there are spectators at some venues, speed skating, Ski jumping for two, but when you start looking at the list, they are very limited in number and location and for what they can view, from my perspective, a waste of $$$ to be there.
      For the summer events it is a similar story. Apart from the stadium track and field events and a few others, there are many that have virtually no spectators that can see the events (cycling, sailing, rowing, kayak, open water swim for a few) and you either catch it on mainstream TV coverage or on the TV highlights reel and some not even there.
      For those that fear an F1 GP race without spectators, don’t. The TV audience will more than make up for it. I am absolutely certain that the program director will find a pretty face in the pits or VIP area to focus on just as Seb is taking the inside line away from someone.
      Bring it on. It may not be awesome, but it will be Great.

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