British PM Johnson endeavours to ensure F1 races can take place
There is fresh hope that the two planned Formula 1 races at Silverstone in the UK will ahead after all following reports that British prime minister Boris Johnson has intervened to see how quarantine restrictions might be relaxed for the sport’s fraternity.
The circuit is aiming to stage grands prix on consecutive weekends, on 26 July and 2 August, but this was thrown into doubt by an apparent refusal by the government to allow an exemption from new laws coming into effect on 8 June forcing new arrivals to the country to self-isolate for 14 days as part of measures designed to combat the spread of coronavirus.
However, media reports yesterday suggested that Johnson had told ministers to work to make sure the double-header can go ahead behind closed doors.
The 2020 Formula 1 season has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic but is set to finally get under way on 5 July with the first of two races, without spectators, in Austria.
The Red Bull Ring and Silverstone are being lined up for more than one grand prix as the sport looks to make up for the postponement and cancellation of multiple events in the first half of the year.
However, Stuart Pringle, the managing director of Silverstone, had called for clarification on the quarantine situation, while insisting that the circuit was prepared to wait until August to stage events.
He told Sky Sports F1: “We've got our original dates that we've been holding and talking around in mid-to-late July, but actually we've got a degree of flexibility through August as well.
"I don't think that finding a date for Formula 1 is going to be a problem, or indeed two dates. What we need is the green light from government, and that will take time. In terms of the period we need to stand the venue up, without fans present, it really is relatively short.
"There's quite a lot of planning that needs to account for the Covid-19 implications, and that's new, uncharted territory for us. But everything runs out of a fixed infrastructure. We've got two permanent paddock blocks, so we're not talking about putting up too many marquees or fan areas or anything like that."
Seven of the 10 Formula 1 teams are based in the UK, and Silverstone has hosted a grand prix every year since 1950.
It was reported last week that Formula 1 was looking to begin the delayed 2020 campaign with eight races in Europe, with Hungary, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Italy all under consideration.
Meanwhile, the Formula 1 teams have agreed to a new package of cost-cutting changes to help the sport be more sustainable in the wake of the pandemic.
The budget cap to be introduced next year is being reduced by $30 million to $145 million, with further cuts, to $140 million in 2022, and to $135 million for seasons 2023 to 2025, on the way, according to BBC Sport.
The move, which has faced opposition from leading teams such as Ferrari, is aimed at slashing expenditure and making the racing more competitive.
The measures are expected to be approved by the FIA, motor racing’s international governing body, this week.