until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

F1 tracks willing to host midweek GPs to help season start

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

The Red Bull Ring and Silverstone are willing to host consecutive grands prix, including midweek races, if that is what Formula 1 needs to start its season in July.

F1’s first nine races of 2020 have been cancelled or postponed and the 10th, in France, is expected to be moved as well.

Championship bosses have discussed the practicality of the Austrian and British Grand Prix venues holding their races behind-closed-doors, and having a second race at each track.

This is likely to be in the form of a double-header on the same weekend or races held a week apart, but Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko has told Austria’s public broadcaster that the Austrian GP could be followed up by a second race in midweek.

The first race would stick to its original July 5 date, as Austria is well-placed to lift restrictions and allow events after the end of June.

A deadline on the fate of the British GP was set by the circuit as the end of April but this is based on the grand prix proceeding as normal and spectators attending, and there is more flexibility if a race goes ahead without fans.

Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle told The Race that his circuit will do whatever is needed to help F1 “get the necessary race or races or formats shaped into some sort of deliverable form”.

Asked about Marko’s openness to a midweek event and if he had a preference for a double-header or a week in between, Pringle said both were “absolutely just as viable from a Silverstone perspective”.

“If it’s within the same weekend, then it’s very much a Formula 1 call because they control the timetabling and that gets signed off by the FIA,” said Pringle.

“But we could make the place available on consecutive weekends, or for a midweek or frankly more if it was asked.

“Whatever it takes to be supportive of their needs we will flex accordingly.”

Many major sports host midweek fixtures but in normal circumstances a grand prix is the culmination of days of activity that begin officially on Thursday and include Friday practice, final practice and qualifying on Saturday, and the race on Sunday.

F1 has already made moves to allow the format to be condensed for some races, most likely by eliminating Friday running from the schedule.

A second event at the same circuit would require less off-track preparation and on-track practice, and Pringle said a midweek race would not have the usual restrictions.

“No, think it’d be fine,” he said. “Honestly, the previous rules just don’t apply.

“We don’t have lights, but if we were talking about July or August or something they’re long days aren’t they? But I don’t know why you wouldn’t run in the day.”

Pringle had previously been asked about whether running the track in a different format, or in reverse, would be an option.

He joked on Monday that his “failure to deny the suggestion that a race could or should be run in reverse prompted quite a lot of active speculation”, but reiterated Silverstone’s desire to be accommodating.

“Probably the most far-fetched example of breaking the old rulebook, status quo, is running in reverse, because we know there are sections of the track that would require quite a bit of work and that’s probably not practical or sensible.” he said.

“But in terms of when you ran, or the format you ran to, all that is flexible.”

Should Europe not have the capacity to hold grands prix during the summer as hoped, Vietnam or China might be able to slot into a revised calendar in August as Asia is later in its recovery period.

If European countries are clear to hold races, they will almost certainly be without spectators. Silverstone is in daily communication with F1 and preliminary conversations have been held about the logistics of a fan-free grand prix.

However, as several major sports attempt to negotiate a return to competition behind-closed-doors, Pringle said it was important not to distract from the main message during the crisis, which is for people to stay home and stay safe.

“We’re just saying, we’ll work with Formula 1 to come up with a solution that gets the championship under way,” said Pringle.

“We’ll do as much or as little as we’re asked under any reasonable format to try and assist because we’re a long-term stakeholder in Formula 1 and we want it to come back fit and healthy and as quickly as possible.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks