The fate of this year’s British Grand Prix is dependent on how long the national lockdown is enforced. The meeting at Silverstone, due to take place on the weekend of 17-19 July, requires 12 weeks notice to prepare and the managing director of the circuit, Stuart Pringle, has said this could not begin with things as they currently are in the country.
“Sooner rather than later we’re going to have to make a decision,” Pringle told the GPFans website. “But 12 weeks is the drop-dead date to get things prepared.” That would require work to begin on 20 April, one week after the lockdown is due to end. However if the restrictions are extended, Silverstone would be unable to prepare for the race.
“We would begin preparations with site infrastructure stuff, the marquees and things like that,” said Pringle. “But if we’re locked down and people can’t travel in, then that’s going to make the decision for us.” The opening eight meetings of the Formula One season have already been called off and Silverstone has shut down all track activities. Motorsport UK has suspended all racing from the end of April to the end of June.
All the major summer sport events in Britain are under threat. Wimbledon, set to begin on 29 June, is expected to be called off and the Open from July 16-19 at Royal St George’s is understood to be considering postponement.
Pringle insisted Silverstone would continue to pursue every opportunity to hold the race. “It’s not our decision alone,” he said. “We wouldn’t do anything without agreement with Formula One. We’re in very close communication, we’re trying to find the right answer. The easy thing is to say: ‘Well, it’s not possible is it?’. Actually, very extreme action is being taken at the moment, and we might yet get on top of things rather quicker than they have previously indicated.”
Pringle confirmed ticket holders will receive a full refund if the meeting is postponed. Last year Silverstone was the best attended F1 meeting with a total of 351,000 people over the weekend and 141,000 on race day.