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British Grand Prix goes behind closed doors

Formula One chief executive Chase Carey has targeted a season start date of July 3 as it was confirmed today (Monday) that the British Grand Prix at Silverstone will be held without fans and the French Grand Prix will not go ahead at all this year.

F1 is yet to begin its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 outbreak and has been forced to either postpone or cancel numerous events. Carey is hopeful of beginning the season in the summer and is confident that between 15 and 18 races can be completed.

It is hoped the Austrian Grand Prix will be the first race of the season, taking place from July 3-5. Further European races, including the British Grand Prix, would then be held through July, August and the beginning of September, before the series heads to Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, finishing with events in Bahrain and the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Carey said: “We expect the early races to be without fans but hope fans will be part of our events as we move further into the schedule. We still have to work out many issues like the procedures for the teams and our other partners to enter and operate in each country.

“The health and safety of all involved will continue to be priority one and we will only go forward if we are confident we have reliable procedures to address both risks and possible issues.”

The finalised calendar will be published as soon as possible and Carey stressed that all plans are subject to change.

Carey’s statement comes as Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle confirmed this morning that this year’s British Grand Prix, due to take place on July 19, will go ahead without fans due to the current conditions in the UK.

Fans who have bought tickets for this year’s event will be given the option of transferring their booking directly to 2021 or taking a full refund. Fans will be contacted in the next two weeks with full details on how to transfer their ticket or request a refund.

Pringle said: “We have left this difficult decision for as long as possible, but it is abundantly clear given the current conditions in the country and the government requirements in place now and for the foreseeable future, that a grand prix under normal conditions is just not going to be possible.

“Our obligations to protect the health and safety of everyone involved in preparing and delivering the event, our volunteer marshals and race makers, and of course, you, the amazing fans, means that this is the best, safest and only decision we could make.”

Pringle also announced that Silverstone intends to give away thousands of tickets for the 2021 event to NHS staff and other key workers.

The French Grand Prix, meanwhile, had been due to take place on June 28 but organisers confirmed this morning that the event will not go ahead at all in 2020. It comes following the French government’s decision to ban all major events until at least the middle of July and also takes into account the wider travel restrictions in place.

The French Grand Prix becomes the 10th race of the 2020 season that has either been cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19. Eric Boullier, managing director of the French Grand Prix, said that attentions are now turning to the 2021 race as organisers look to offer fans an “even more unprecedented event”.

Image: Silverstone