Motor racing: Silverstone chief hopes double header with no distractions creates new F1 fans

Britain's Silverstone circuit will host the fourth and fifth races of the coronavirus-delayed F1 season on Aug 2 and 9.
Britain's Silverstone circuit will host the fourth and fifth races of the coronavirus-delayed F1 season on Aug 2 and 9.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - The managing director of Silverstone hopes the fact that the English track is staging two Grand Prix races this season will help lure a new round of fans into Formula One.

The circuit will play host to races on Aug 2 and Aug 9 as part of a revised F1 calendar following the coronavirus pandemic.

The English Premier League season would have ended and unlike last year, when the British Grand Prix was up against England's Cricket World Cup final triumph at Lord's and the men's singles final at Wimbledon, this year's race may not face the same competition from rival sports events.

Indeed, this year's edition was initially moved back a week in July to avoid the Euro 2020 football and Wimbledon finals but would have clashed with the culmination of golf's British Open.

But all those marquee sports fixtures will not take place in 2020 because of Covid-19.

"On the one hand of course you want your sport to dominate the back pages and sometimes the front," Silverstone chief Stuart Pringle told BBC Radio.

 

"But equally for the fans that attend the grand prix, we have had some absolutely fantastic afternoons when we have gone over to the main stage and watched the football or the cricket final.

"Making an afternoon of sport is an amazing live event with being able to flick the giant screens over." Pringle, however, added: "But I do think that by being top of the bill this summer, hopefully we may introduce some people.

"We all love our own sport and sometimes we don't try other sports. And actually if you're a sports fan, just getting stuck into something is a great experience... I'm sure we will pick up some new people."

The British government has granted an exemption to the 14-day quarantine period for international arrivals, meaning overseas-based teams should still be able to race at Silverstone.

And Pringle said the Northamptonshire track could cope with the particular health and safety challenges of staging two races behind closed doors events amid the pandemic.

"I'm confident," he said. "We will get everything ready. As a team at Silverstone we are used to changing our plans or having to deal with difficult, dynamic situations.

"We have some real challenges - in 2018 our MotoGP grand prix got rained off on the Sunday. In 2012 we had a stinking wet F1 race. Many people in the team were working at the one in 2000, which was a mud bath."