A final decision on whether the British Grand Prix can go ahead even without Formula 1 fans might not come for “weeks”, according to Silverstone’s track chief Stuart Pringle.

Silverstone announced last week that it would only run the British Grand Prix scheduled for July 19 without spectators in attendance because of the ongoing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Pringle says Silverstone must wait to learn more following a series of meetings with sporting bodies over how and when major sport in the UK can resume.

The Northamptonshire track had originally set an end-of-April deadline to make a decision over the fate of the British Grand Prix, which was the latest it could wait to commit to an event with a full crowd.

Confirmation that the race will go ahead behind closed doors, if it all, means there is now more flexibility over the timeframe.

“We don’t actually know whether or not we have a race behind closed doors - I need to be clear on that,” Pringle told the BBC.

“We need to understand from the government the criteria that need to be achieved to be allowed to run a sporting event behind closed doors.

“And I’m working with with the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport and with the governing body Motorsport UK to establish whether or not we can comply with those and meet them and surpass them.

“We also have to reach an agreement with the Formula 1 world championship. That’s not the work of a moment.

"There’s absolutely the desire on the part of both parties to make that happen but it’s it’s complicated, it’s contractual, and it will take a few more days, probably weeks to get there.”

Terms also need to be agreed with F1, with a report in The Guardian last week detailing that FOM could provide Silverstone with financial backing to ensure the British Grand Prix can go ahead following a loss in ticket sales revenues. 

Pringle said Silverstone still needs to overcome a number of hurdles to ensure a race without fans could be staged safely in line with current social distancing measures.

“We were scaled up and that [meant] a lot of people,” he explained.

“Just directly reporting to me with everybody that comes in it’s some 7,000 people that deliver the public elements and then there’s about the same again that work on the sporting side.

“But we also need to understand what would need to be in place to run a a safe and secure event behind closed doors. And that will include things that we don’t normally do, like testing for Covid-19 and various medical procedures.

“So there’s a whole heap of work and it’s having to be done now by an awful lot less people that would normally do it and I’m becoming quite familiar with the wee small hours of the morning to try to get through the through the volume. But that’s no hardship.

“We’ve just got to get some clarity and see whether we can get at least a race behind closed doors. I think we’ll all enjoy that, it’ll be something for our summer even if we can’t be there in person.”

 

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