'Unthinkable' to hold Dutch GP behind closed doors


The sporting director of the Dutch Grand Prix has said it would be 'unthinkable' to hold the race behind closed doors in the summer.

Jan Lammers said he would prefer calling off this year's race altogether and delaying Zandvoort's return to the Formula 1 calendar until 2021, rather than being forced into holding it in front of empty grandstands.

The locked doors approach is one of the suggestions made by Formula 1's director of motorsports Ross Brawn as a way of rejigging the season to cope with the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, nine races in 2020 have been abandoned, cancelled or indefinitely postponed because of the global lockdown introduced to slow the spread of COVID-19, with the Dutch event among the latter.

F1 is hoping to reschedule many of them over the summer that would normally see the sport shutdown for a month.

But even if the events can eventually go ahead, local restrictions on large gatherings could force circuits to hold the races without fans being allowed into the facility.

"It's an unthinkable scenario,” Lammers told Motorsport.com. “If you have a race it has to be without compromise. You have to be able to celebrate."

Lammers said that was particularly important for Zandvoort, which last held a Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1985.

“For us it’s about the return of Formula 1 after 35 years," he explained. "That should be a great party that you want to celebrate with everyone.”

However he acknowledged that no formal proposal to run the Dutch GP behind closed doors had yet been made by F1 - and conceded that it would be given due consideration if and when it was.

“A race without fans is not something we want to think about until we’re being asked that question," he said. "Fortunately that hasn’t happened yet.

“We can’t forget that the FIA and FOM are facing an incredible task. They are trying to save as much as they can," he acknowledged.

"They are all doing what you can expect from them, they are thinking about all scenarios. It’s a good thing.

“If we’re being asked that question, we will have seriously think about it,” he added. "As far as we’re concerned though, it’s just not possible."

Lammers added that rather than race in front of empty grandstands, he would prefer to see F1 run events mid-week in order to fit in as full a schedule as possible once racing is able to resume.

"Why can't a Grand Prix be held on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening, just like the Champions League?" he told Dutch broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting. "Why should a Grand Prix always be held in prime family time, when you might want to do other things with your family who don't like motorsport?"

Lammers said that the enforced downtime due to the coronavirus was an opportunity to apply some blue sky thinking to the whole of F1, including proposals to run some circuits like Silverstone in different configurations.

“I think the coronavirus, both economically and sportingly, will be three steps back but two steps forward," he suggested. "We are all learning from this situation.

“We can only hope that we’ll get a green light soon and that we’ll quickly have a Grand Prix again," he added. "That would mean that the virus is a little bit under control, and that’s the most important thing in all of this."

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