F1 and Silverstone strike British GP deal


Formula One and British Grand Prix venue Silverstone have agreed terms for two races without spectators at the circuit this season, subject to government approval.

The British Grand Prix, a home race for Mercedes’ six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton as well as seven of the 10 teams, is scheduled for July 19 but that could change as the sport redraws a calendar ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

F1 is seeking to make up the numbers after three races, including this month’s traditional Monaco showcase, were cancelled and seven others postponed.

More are also looking unlikely to happen due to travel restrictions and measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’re not talking dates because F1 are still trying to knit their calendar together and there seems to be a certain amount of flexibility,” Silverstone’s managing director Stuart Pringle said on Friday.

He said both parties were happy with the agreement, without giving details.

Media reports earlier in the week had suggested the sides were arguing over money, with the hosting fee waived but Silverstone unable to sell tickets and still seeking a payment to cover costs.

The British Grand Prix was the best attended race on the calendar last year, with 351,000 people over the three days and 141,000 on race Sunday.

The races would be back-to-back at the circuit that is celebrating the 70th anniversary of hosting the first F1 world championship race.

Pringle said there was still no presumption that any race would happen, however.

The British government has said it plans to introduce a quarantine period for most people arriving from abroad, which could make Formula One’s plans for Silverstone almost impossible unless an exemption is granted to teams.

The sport is planning to start the season with two races in Austria in early July, also behind closed doors and in carefully controlled medical conditions with teams flying in on charter flights and remaining isolated.

“It is very much subject to government approval. If the government aren’t happy, it won’t happen,” said Pringle of the Silverstone races.

Meanwhile, the Belgian Grand Prix can go ahead at its original August date, but with no fans, local authorities in the Walloon region said on Friday.

After Belgium last month banned all mass events in the country until August 31 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the F1 race scheduled for August 28-30 at the Spa-Francorchamps track was under threat and organisers suspended ticket sales.

But Elio Di Rupo, president of the French-speaking region, said on Friday: “The Grand-Prix de Belgique can be held behind closed doors, as well as all training sessions.”

The Spa-Francorchamps circuit said on its website that it had implemented health and prevention measures to comply with directives.



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