British GP decision needed 'by the end of April'

© XPB 

The decision about whether or not the British Grand Prix will go ahead as scheduled will have to be be taken by the end of April, managers at Silverstone Circuit have said.

The race is currently set to take place on July 19. As things stand, that would make it the fourth race on a calendar that's been turned on its head by the impact of the global spread of coronavirus.

The pandemic has already forced the postponement or cancellation of the first eight races of the 2020 season including events in Australia, Vietnam, China and Monaco. The Canadian Grand Prix is currently 'on the bubble' on June 14, followed by France and Austria.

Much will depend on the national lockdown measures designed to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Britain and France are among those countries currently banning all public gatherings, including sporting events.

How long the measures will be in place remains to be seen. The UK lockdown is initially set to last until April 13, which would still give Silverstone time to begin preparations for the race.

“This decision is not just up to us," explained Silverstone manager Stuart Pringle. "We won’t do anything without the agreement of Formula 1 and its challenges in changing an international calendar.

“Sooner rather than later we’re going to have to make a decision,” Pringle told the GPFans website. “But 12 weeks is the drop-dead date to get things prepared.

“We’re trying to find the right answer, but 12 weeks is the deadline to get things ready,", he added. "That would require work to begin on 20 April, one week after the lockdown is due to end.

“We would begin preparations with site infrastructure stuff, the marquees and things like that,” he continued. “But if we’re locked down and people can’t travel in, then that’s going to make the decision for us.

Currently 70 per cent of the staff at Silverstone are said to have been 'furloughed' - placed on home leave for the duration of the lockdown on up to 80 per cent pay provided by an emergency scheme put in place by the UK government.

"We’re trying to find the right answer. The easy thing is to say: ‘Well it’s just not possible is it?’.

"Actually very extreme action is being taken at the moment, and we might yet get on top of things rather quicker than they have previously indicated.

"However if the restrictions are extended, Silverstone would be unable to prepare for the race."

The circuit has already confirmed that in the event the race is cancelled, all ticketholders will receive a full refund.

An estimated 141,000 turned out to see Lewis Hamilton victorious in last year's Grand Prix, with 351,000 fans pouring into Silverstone in total over the whole of the 2019 race weekend.

The UK Automobile Club has already taken the decision to cancel all motor racing until June 30 at the earliest, less than three weeks before the British GP.

The popular Goodwood Speed Festival, which is traditionally scheduled to take place on the weekend preceding the British Grand Prix, has already been postponed.

Wimbledon is expected to make a decision shortly about this year's tennis championship due to start on June 29. The Open gold tournament at Royal St George planned for July 16-19 is also currently considering its options.

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