Formula 1’s hopes of staging a behind closed doors British Grand Prix have been given a boost following updated guidance from the UK government. 

The 2020 F1 season has been heavily delayed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has caused the opening 10 races to be postponed or cancelled altogether.

F1 hopes to get the campaign underway with a series of behind closed doors double-header events in Europe, starting in Austria on July 3-5 and followed by two races at Silverstone later in the month. 

Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the UK public on Sunday evening, a 50-page guidance document was published on Monday detailing how England will begin to ease its lockdown measures.

Step Two of the government’s coronavirus roadmap outlines that no professional sport will be staged until June 1 at the earliest, adding it is looking at “permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact”. 

The document details that the content and timing of the second stage of adjustments will “depend on the most up-to-date assessment of the risk posed by the virus” and that the dates set out can be delayed if the governments five key tests are not met. 

Though there remains no firm indication as to whether this will apply specifically to an event like the British Grand Prix, the announcement could be seen as boosting the prospect of the race taking place without spectators on July 19 as originally hoped. However, a number of hurdles remain before Silverstone is given the green light to host a race.

F1’s plan involves creating a “biosphere” environment in which paddock personnel would undergo rigorous testing procedures for coronavirus before travel and further tests for staff every two days. 

Strict isolation measures will also be implemented in a bid to limit contact between staff throughout the race weekend.

F1’s initial blueprint looked to be threatened when Prime Minister Johnson announced on Sunday that air travellers into the UK would soon be forced to self-isolate for a 14-day period after arrival. 

But the new guidance on international travel referred to “a short list of exemptions” that would be exempt from the regulation. 

It is understood that F1 bosses are in detailed discussions with the government regarding its season start plans and whether they will be affected.

 

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