Silverstone has joined the UK’s leading sports bodies in calling for the use of ‘vaccine passports’ to enable full capacity at this year’s Formula 1 British Grand Prix.

In a joint letter to prime minister Boris Johnson and the other leaders of the major political parties, the group - formed of the governing bodies of football, rugby, and other elite-level events - said it supports the introduction of a ‘Covid certification process’ as a “credible” way to allow full crowds at venues from this summer.

Silverstone is among the venues feeling the crippling financial burden brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced all sporting events to be held behind closed doors for the majority of the past year.

The group insists that current plans to allow for a partial return of socially distanced spectators with capped attendance from 17 May would be “insufficient to end sport’s Covid financial crisis.”

“Looking ahead to June 21, we support the government’s ambition to secure the full return of fans, without restrictions if possible,” the letter read. “Of necessity, this will depend upon the government agreeing that it is safe to lessen or drop social distancing requirements.”

The letter adds: “It is important that we have certainty as soon as possible on the form this guidance will take so we can plan efficiently and effectively with many big sporting events scheduled for late June and onwards.”

Silverstone held two races in a season for the first time last year as part of F1’s revised 2020 calendar but both events were staged behind closed doors, with the Northamptonshire circuit previously welcoming 141,000 supporters in 2019.

Around 4,500 fans that could prove they had been vaccinated against, or recovered from COVID-19, were allowed to attend the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix last month. However, the next race at Imola is set to be staged behind closed doors.

The dubbed ‘vaccine passports’ would show that a person was either vaccinated against COVID-19, had a recent negative test, or has antibodies having previously contracted the virus.

But the group also urged that “the final approach must not be discriminatory, should protect privacy, and have clear exit criteria” and should not be a requirement for participation in grassroots sport in the UK.

“All of our sports can see the benefit that a Covid certification process offers in getting more fans safely back to their sport as quickly as possible,” the letter continued. “We know that our stadia can only be fully filled with an assurance process.

“This process must ensure that everyone can access stadia and must include arrangements that would verify a negative Covid test or an antibody test alongside vaccination certification.”