Silverstone has concluded an agreement with Formula One to host two grands prix behind closed doors this year. It is understood there had been disagreement between organisers and F1 over the appropriate level of financial recompense to meet the circuit’s costs. But they have now reached a deal and, subject to government restrictions, will host back‑to‑back races at the end of July and early August.
Silverstone has been clear it was willing to host the races, one of which would be the British Grand Prix, but that without fans to meet costs it required an acceptable commercial arrangement.
Silverstone’s managing director, Stuart Pringle, said: “I am delighted to confirm that Silverstone and F1 have reached an agreement in principle to host two races behind closed doors this summer.
“However, these races will be subject to government approval, as our priority is the safety of all involved and strict compliance with Covid-19 regulations. We would like to thank all our fans who have been so supportive throughout this and to assure them we are determined to do all we can to help F1 put on a show this summer.”
Agreement had not been a foregone conclusion despite F1’s eagerness to build a calendar with as many races as possible when racing resumes. F1’s chief executive officer, Chase Carey, pointedly observed: “Whether it’s the teams or promoters or sponsors we’re not going to be handing out candy to everybody.” There has yet to be any formal communication of the deal from F1.
The sport has already had to waive hosting fees for meetings held behind closed doors and will be expected to at least meet costs for the circuits involved, which increasingly appears likely to be most of the European races.
The season is scheduled to start in Austria on 5 July, with two races back-to-back behind closed doors. Silverstone would then host meetings on 26 July and 2 August. Hungary will also be a closed-door meeting and while Spa was given the go ahead this week to take place on 30 August, it too will have to do so without fans.
The season getting under way also remains subject to potential restrictions. The government has imposed a 14-day quarantine period for entry into the UK which would make travel almost unmanageable for the seven F1 teams based here if it was still in place in July or they were not to be granted an exemption.