Silverstone is working on a plan to hold the British Grand Prix behind closed doors, after writing to ticket holders to say that fans will not be able to attend this year’s race.
It is currently scheduled for July 19, but even if that date was pushed back, Silverstone’s managing director, Stuart Pringle, said it would be impossible to stage the Grand Prix safely under normal conditions “for the foreseeable future”.
The circuit is already in discussions with Formula 1 on the practicalities of holding the Grand Prix with empty grandstands, while ensuring the safety of the volunteers and staff essential for each race.
Organisers of the French Grand Prix have given up hope of holding a race altogether, and cancelled the Paul Ricard event, blaming French restrictions on major events and on travel.
“I am extremely disappointed to tell you that we are unable to stage this year’s British Grand Prix in front of the fans at Silverstone,” said Pringle, in the letter sent to all ticket-holders for this year’s race.
“We have left this difficult decision for as long as possible, but it is abundantly clear given the current conditions in the country and the Government requirements in place now and for the foreseeable future, that a Grand Prix under normal conditions is just not going to be possible.
“Our obligations to protect the health and safety of everyone involved in preparing and delivering the event, our volunteer marshals and Race Makers, and of course, you, the amazing fans, means that this is the best, safest and only decision we could make.”
Ross Brawn, Formula 1’s managing director of motor sports, said earlier this month that holding closed events without spectators was on the agenda, allowing teams to travel and take part in races while maintaining minimal contact with others.
He said that televised races would be a bonus for millions of fans stuck at home.
“We will support Formula 1 as they seek to find alternative ways to enable F1 racing to take place this year,” wrote Pringle. “Following this weekend’s news from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport we are now working with them on the viability of an event behind closed doors.
“Should this be possible, it will be of some small comfort for you to know that the 2020 Formula 1 British Grand Prix will be available to watch live on Sky and Channel 4.”
A statement from the organisers of the French Grand Prix said that it would be “impossible” to hold the race as planned on June 28, and that it would not run this year.
“Due to the declarations of the President of the French Republic to ban major events until at least the middle of July and to maintain the closure of the Schengen area until further notice, and the recent decisions announced by the French government to fight against the spread of Covid-19 virus, the GIP Grand Prix de France takes note of the impossibility to maintain the Formula 1 Grand Prix de France on June 28,” organisers said in a statement.
Eric Boullier, Director General of the race, said: “The eyes of the GIP Grand Prix de France are already turning towards the summer of 2021.”