Formula One in recent weeks has appeared to replicate the image of a car stuttering its way on to the starting grid. As soon as one piece of news came along, such as the planned July 5th start in Austria for the first Grand Prix, another factor emerged to call the season into question, as shown by the discussion around the 14-day quarantine in Britain. However, according to The Times newspaper, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is intervening in the hope of ensuring that a double header at Silverstone does go ahead either in the original July date or later into August.
As reported last week, Silverstone’s Managing Director Stuart Pringle told Sky Sports that he ‘remains optimistic‘ that the British Grand Prix and another Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place this summer. The reason doubt had been cast was as a result of Home Secretary Priti Patel’s recent announcement that there will be a 14-day quarantine for travellers arriving in the UK from June 8th onwards. At the time of the Sky Sports interview, Stuart Pringle said:
"We have been working closely with government on the implications of the policy for Formula 1 and Silverstone and those discussions are ongoing at this time with the aim of finding a solution with safety as our first priority."
Such optimism appears well founded following the exclusive news broken by The Times newspaper this week which indicates that the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is eager to see the races proceed and shall intervene if necessary, as reported in the British broadsheet:
“The British Grand Prix is set to be reprieved after Boris Johnson intervened personally to ensure that two Formula One races can go ahead at Silverstone this summer despite the 14-day coronavirus quarantine restrictions. In a huge boost for British sports events, the prime minister has told cabinet ministers that they should work towards making sure that the double-header of races planned for July 26 and August 2 can happen behind closed doors.”
What must be stressed is the fact that the article mentions ‘Sources have suggested…’ this topic was discussed in a cabinet meeting last week. As such, this is by no means conclusive proof but is certainly reason to be optimistic nonetheless – just like Silverstone’s Managing Director Stuart Pringle clearly is.
There is a great desire to have Formula 1 personnel circumvent their way around the 14-day quarantine. As a result of seven of the ten teams on the F1 grid being based in Britain, this stipulation could have a more damaging impact on the proposed season as a whole. At present, people involved with international sporting competitions have not been given exemption but that may soon change following reports that the rules will be reviewed around June 29th with the British Prime Minister now involved in the proceedings.
Motorsport.com has also given further reason for hope following their recent report that an F1 spokesman told them:
“We are working constructively with government on our safe restart to the season,” he said. “And those discussions are ongoing.”
Meanwhile, should difficulty continue to arise with Silverstone’s planned event (July 26th and August 2nd) there is some flexibility with the dates, as Stuart Pringle shared with Sky Sports journalist Craig Slater:
“We've got our original dates that we've been holding and talking around in mid-to-late July, but actually we've got a degree of flexibility through August as well…I don't think that finding a date for Formula 1 is going to be a problem, or indeed two dates. What we need is the green light from government, and that will take time.”
Despite this, time may be something that Silverstone does not have because it has widely reported that Hockenheim is ready to step in if Silverstone cannot schedule the event as planned. Hockenheim CEO Jorn Teske is eager for a decision to be made soon as reported by Reuters:
"We are talking with F1, that’s correct. We have spoken about the idea of having a race without spectators here at the circuit…We already checked if this could be possible, from dates as well as the legal general point of view. For us, it is an option."
Whether taking place in Silverstone or Hockenheim, Grand Prix events take a long time to organise as a race circuit would need several weeks to organise track marshals, security and emergency services. If Formula One is going to finally stop stuttering to the starting grid and be in a position to figuratively fire the season into first gear – something must be decided quickly before the lights go out.