The prospects for two Formula 1 races in Britain this summer have improved after the UK government indicated that it is willing to relax the 14-day quarantine rules for elite sports personnel.
The news comes ahead of Monday’s expected announcement of an eight-race European leg of the 2020 World Championship, which will feature events at Silverstone on August 2 and 9. There will be no blanket exemptions, but the government will provide flexibility for sports personnel arriving in the UK if a detailed plan surrounding their travel arrangements and movements within the country is approved.
The relaxation of the restrictions will also help UEFA Champions League football, and the West Indies and Pakistan cricket tours.
F1 has been working since the start of the Covid-19 crisis on a plan that involves fewer people attending races. Last week the World Motor Sport Council voted to restrict F1 teams to 80 people each for closed races, of whom a maximum of 60 can be operational personnel.
The strategy includes carefully controlled travel and accommodation arrangements for the British teams travelling to races on the continent, and for Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri, Renault and Pirelli personnel arriving in the UK to travel to Silverstone. The plans also encompass the F2, F3 and Porsche Supercup support categories.
The UK government has made clear its support for the return of sport, and in a briefing on Saturday culture secretary Oliver Dowden specifically mentioned F1.
“The wait is over,” he said. “Live British sport will shortly be back on in safe and carefully controlled environments. This guidance provides the safe framework for sports to resume competitions.
“It’s up to each individual sport to decide exactly when to resume competition; they know their sports best. But football, tennis, horse racing, F1, cricket, golf, rugby, snooker and others are set to return to our screens shortly, with horse racing first out of the gate in the north-east next week.”
An F1 spokesperson told Motorsport.com: “We welcome the government’s efforts to ensure elite sport can continue to operate and their support for our return to racing.
“We will maintain a close dialogue with them in the coming weeks as we prepare to start our season in the first week of July.”
As previously reported, the European leg of the 2020 World Championship will begin with two races in Austria, followed by Hungary, two events at Silverstone, and then the Spanish, Belgian and Italian GPs. What happens after Monza is yet to be finalised.
The schedule is set be formally announced on Tuesday by Chase Carey.