Formula 1: Deal reached to hold British Grand Prix but quarantine questions remain

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
British Grand Prix
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Formula 1 and Silverstone have agreed a deal for two grands prix to be held at the British track this season.

Owners the British Racing Drivers' Club and F1 had been far apart in their assessments of the fee for the track to host the behind-closed-doors events.

But a compromise agreement has now been reached after negotiations this week.

However, a new threat to the races has emerged in the UK government's plans to impose a two-week quarantine for all international arrivals.

Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle told BBC Sport: "I am delighted to confirm that Silverstone and Formula 1 have reached an agreement in principle to host two races behind closed doors this summer.

"However, these races will be subject to government approval, as our priority is the safety of all involved and strict compliance with Covid-19 regulations.

"I would like to thank all our fans who have been so supportive throughout this and to assure them we are determined to do all we can to help Formula 1 put on a show this summer."

An F1 spokesman said: "We are continuing to have conversations with Silverstone and other promoters regarding a revised 2020 calendar."

Quarantine rules complicate matters

F1 is trying to secure an exemption for its staff from a new rule that international travellers must go into a 14-day self-isolation period upon returning to the UK.

The government has not defined when that will come into force, saying only that it will be "soon", but if it is imposed without exemptions it threatens the return of all elite international sport this summer.

The issue for F1 is that seven of the 10 teams have bases in the UK. And beyond the problems of staff travelling internationally from race to race, the cars have to return to their factories periodically in between races, especially if they are involved in accidents.

To work around a two-week enforced quarantine period would mean that any races at Silverstone would have to take place with that period on either side.

That is problematic for F1 as the sport seeks to achieve its aim to hold a World Championship with between 15 and 18 races, starting with two races on consecutive weekends in Austria on 5 and 12 July.

Under current plans, the races at the Red Bull Ring would be followed by two events at Silverstone, if F1 can find a way around the quarantine restrictions.

Earlier this week, the chances of British races had receded when it emerged that Silverstone had been asking for £15m to host the two events - the same amount as it would have paid for its fee to host the race under normal conditions.

F1 had waived the fee because it was asking Silverstone to host races without fans, and had offered to ensure that the track was not out of pocket.

A number of British-based teams had been in touch with F1 to express their concerns about developments, feeling that Silverstone was being unreasonable.

But the financial impediments to the races taking place have now been removed.

Belgian Grand Prix
Belgian Grand Prix - well worth having around

Belgium approves race plan

Meanwhile, the Belgian government has given the go-ahead for its grand prix to be held behind closed doors at Spa-Francorchamps on its original date of 30 August.

A deal has not yet been struck with F1, but Spa general manager Vanessa Maes told Belgian media she expected this to happen in the coming days.

Belgium is one of the countries at which F1 hopes to hold the second tranche of European races, after Austria and the UK.

Among the other events in the mix are the tracks originally intended to hold races this year in Spain, Hungary, France and Italy.

Hockenheim in Germany, which was not on the original schedule, is on standby in case there is a vacant slot that other tracks cannot fill.

Cost cap talks ongoing

F1's governing body, the FIA, has delayed a vote on proposals to reduce the cost cap being imposed next year until next week.

Teams had been due to meet on Friday and vote on a proposal to lower the level of $175m (£137.9m) enshrined in the rules to $145m, and then lowering again to $140m in 2022 and $135m for the period 2023 to 2025.

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto, who had been against lowering the cap below $150m, said on Thursday that the teams had all agreed on the $145m.

But the FIA has decided to wait until next week while finishing touches are made to the proposal, with the hope of a vote by teams early next week and formal approval by the FIA's world motorsport council later in the week.


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