Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 August 2020

Silverstone offers to host back-to-back Grands Prix to save F1 season

Nine races already cancelled or postponed with more likely to follow amid coronavirus

Lewis Hamilton won the British Grand Prix for a record sixth time in 2019. Silverstone has offered to host back-to-back races to help the championship amid coronavirus. PA
Lewis Hamilton won the British Grand Prix for a record sixth time in 2019. Silverstone has offered to host back-to-back races to help the championship amid coronavirus. PA

British Grand Prix organisers are willing to host consecutive races in an effort to help salvage the coronavirus-hit world championship.

So far nine of the 22 races have either been cancelled or postponed with the French and Belgian races likely to join the abandoned list.

That would leave the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5 as the delayed season-opener with the British Grand Prix scheduled to follow two weeks later.

Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko told Austrian public broadcaster ORF that the Spielberg track too could host back-to-back races with the second a two-day race during the week.

He said the track manager had already proposed to the government to allow a Grand Prix without fans with chances of its approval "very high".

Sports Minister Werner Kogler announced this week he was not opposed to the Spielberg race being held without a crowd.

Marko, whose team is based in Austria, said F1 organisers were working on a concept of reducing the number of those on site and how charter flights could land at an airport near Spielberg from the UK where most of the teams are based.

Marko highlighted the "unpayable advertising effect" of Spielberg kicking off the truncated season, though all those who enter Austria will have to show negative Covid-19 results to avoid quarantine.

Earlier, Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle also said discussions were already taking place with F1 bosses over the famous British circuit hosting two world championship grands prix in succession.

"We have discussed all sorts of permutations including hosting two races over one weekend and two races over consecutive weekends," Pringle told The Guardian.

"I have complete confidence in our ability to put on these events. We have a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge, we can turn that on definitely."

The British Grand Prix, which is set for July 19, is likely, however, to take place behind closed doors to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

In 2019, official figures showed that 351,000 people attended the Formula One weekend at Silverstone which first hosted a British Grand Prix in 1950.

"F1 has been working very hard to try and work out what the solution for the world championship is," added Pringle.

"We have been in regular contact with them, and have been asked could we hold a race or two and could they be behind closed doors.

"The answer is absolutely, we are open to looking into anything and everything."

Updated: April 20, 2020 07:33 AM

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