Silverstone owners have confirmed that July’s British Grand Prix will not take place in front of fans as a race “under normal conditions is just not going to be possible”.
The Grand Prix has not yet been postponed or cancelled, but Silverstone’s managing director Stuart Pringle wrote a letter to all fans who have already purchased tickets to reveal the decision, which will see more than 350,000 fans miss out on on of Britain’s most-attended events of the year due to the coronavirus lockdown measures.
“As promised I am writing to let you know the latest regarding the 2020 Formula 1 Pirelli British Grand Prix,” Pringle wrote. “I am extremely disappointed to tell you that we are unable to stage this year’s British Grand Prix in front of fans at Silverstone.”
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The announcement leaves the door open to the Grand Prix taking place behind closed doors, which F1 have already indicated could be the best way of starting the 2020 season.
“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,” Pringle added.
“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.
“We have consistently said that should we find ourselves in this position we will support Formula One as they seek to find alternative ways to enable F1 racing to take place this year. 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 One Pirelli British Grand Prix will be available to watch live on Sky and Channel 4.”
The first nine races of the season have been postponed or cancelled due to the outbreak of Covid-19, which took a grip on the globe as the 2020 campaign was about to get underway. A positive test provided from one of the McLaren staff who travelled to Melbourne via Hong Kong resulted in the British team withdrawing from the Australian Grand Prix, which was subsequently cancelled hours before first practice was due to get underway on 13 March.
Since then, the Bahrain, Chinese, Vietnamese, Dutch, Spanish, Azerbaijani and Canadian rounds have been postponed, while the picturesque Monaco Grand Prix has been cancelled until 2021. There also appears a near-certainty that the French Grand Prix will have to be postponed due to the restrictions imposed by President Macron.
A loose plan has seen the Austrian Grand Prix pencilled in for its original dates on 5-7 July, which will take place without fans, with Silverstone in line to be the second race on the calendar if conditions in the UK allow the event to go ahead behind closed doors.
As a result, Silverstone has confirmed that fans will be given two options over the course of the next fortnight, with fans able to transfer their tickets to the 2021 event of request a full refund.
“Nothing matters more to Silverstone and our owners, the British Racing Drivers’ Club, than taking care of our motorsport fans,” added Pringle. “Without you we wouldn’t exist – it’s as simple as that. I would like to reassure you, as my previous letter, customers who have purchased a ticket will be given the option of either transferring their booking directly to 2021 or of taking a full refund. All customers will be contacted in the next two weeks with full details, so we do ask you to please be patient with us as we work through all our bookings.”
Pringle also declared the circuit’s intention to give away “thousands” of tickets to NHS staff and key workers who have been tackling the coronavirus pandemic, which follows similar moves in football, boxing and rugby union to reward those who have “put their lives on the line”.
Pringle added: “I can also confirm that next year, we intend to give away thousands of tickets for the 2021 event to NHS and other key workers who have literally been putting their lives on the line for us all, during these challenging times. No one can be in any doubt of the huge debt of gratitude we owe them.
“Thank you for your patience, loyalty and support.”
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