Formula 1’s hopes of holding two races at Silverstone early in the 2020 season are all but over, with the UK government set to opt against giving elite sport exemptions over travel restrictions.
Arrivals in the UK will be forced to quarantine for 14 days from June 1, but a number of sports were lobbying to be on a list of exemptions because they would be carrying out regular and stringent testing in order to restart. However, sources have told RACER that elite sport is unlikely to receive such approval, and even though the government might allow a degree of flexibility after three to four weeks, that would come too late for a race to be held at Silverstone in July and August.
The home of the British Grand Prix had agreed a deal to hold two races behind closed doors, but F1 already has a contingency plan in place if required. Should Silverstone be a non-starter, the opening two rounds in Austria on July 5 and 12 will be followed by a race elsewhere in Europe, with Hockenheim among the frontrunners. The German soccer league – the Bundesliga – restarted its season last weekend.
By running three to four races in Europe to start the season, F1 could then allow teams to return home – seven of them are based in the UK – for a two-week period to quarantine with families as required before heading back to the continent for another spell of races.
A potential European calendar seen by RACER had races taking place at Silverstone on July 26 and August 2 – with Hockenheim as a back-up – before a round in Hungary on August 9. There would then be another triple-header kicking off in Spain on August 23, ahead of Belgium on August 30 and Italy on September 6.
Another set of back-to-back races in Baku on September 20 and Russia on September 27 was tentatively targeted, although there were further doubts about the viability of getting to Sochi.