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A Silverstone mystery

NEWS STORY
28/04/2020

In a flurry of official statements yesterday we learned that the French Grand Prix is cancelled, the British Grand Prix is still on the cards and F1 continues to target a calendar of between 15 and 18 races.

Further to previous reports on Pitpass, the Guardian today claims that F1 is "set to bankroll the British Grand Prix", in light of the fact the no spectators means no ticket money, which in the Northamptonshire track's case is the only money it usually receives from the Grand Prix.

Indeed, other than the lack of revenue from ticket sales, hosting a race without spectators will still cost, and consequently in its determination to get the 2020 season underway F1 will have to pay Silverstone for the privilege.

"Of course we want the race to happen," Silverstone managing director, Stuart Pringle, tells the Guardian. "The challenge is this is a situation that is unfolding and quite what the scale, the costs associated with that, the logistics, the complications… all of that is still being worked through.

"It's not as simple as me giving a yes or no answer or a figure," he adds. "It's actually understanding the scale of the problem. We're totally optimistic we can help Formula One with a decent season, and one that we can play a meaningful role."

Like a number of the UK-based F1 teams, and indeed F1 itself, Silverstone has had to place a number of its staff on the taxpayer-backed furlough scheme. Nonetheless, one of the few races that doesn't receive any government support, Pringle admits that Silverstone is struggling.

"We were an early adopter of the scheme because we had to close our business," he says. "We need to get back as a business but we can't do it if it risks killing people.

"We are going to need support from our bank but there aren't many businesses that won't and they are supportive. We are very confident we can ride this out, it's just going to set us back."

Shortly after yesterday's numerous statements had been issued, marshals who had volunteered for this year's Grand Prix - and been accepted - were contacted to check that they are still available for the race, due to take place on 19 July.

"As an event official/marshal, you are our first point of call as," read the email, "even without the public, the event cannot take place without the appropriate circuit manning.

"With the general situation and guidelines rapidly changing, we need to know how many of you would still be available and willing to attend," it continued, "clearly the event will need to be run in compliance with government guidelines and advice from Public Health England.

"We only have limited information at present, but it is likely that the existing campsite (hired by Silverstone at great expense) would not be used, instead utilising their own land if possible. There would also not be any guest passes, as no general public would be admitted.

"To enable us to move quickly, please could you complete the very short survey to let us know your availability. For clarity, please can you complete the survey either way – available or not, thanks."

Interestingly, the email and survey referred only to the event scheduled for 19 July, there was no mention of a second Grand Prix, far less back-to-back events.

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