Silverstone chief hopes double header creates new F1 fans


London (AFP)

The managing director of Silverstone hopes the fact 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 August 2 and August 9 as part of a revised F1 calendar following the coronavirus outbreak.

No Premier League matches are scheduled for those dates 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 won't 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 managing director 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 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."