The UK government is in urgent talks with Formula One to save this year's British Grand Prix, with Silverstone officials prepared to delay hosting two races until late August as anxieties mount over strict UK quarantine regulations
While Britain has approved legislation that compels all incoming team personnel to self-isolate for 14 days after June 8, Boris Johnson is keen that a solution is found to restore the premier spectacles of the country's ravaged sporting summer.
With the intervention of Number 10, the Silverstone double-header could yet go ahead on the preferred dates of July 26 and August 2, although track officials are offering to hold reserve dates throughout August if travel restrictions are extended.
The problem is that F1 cannot wait indefinitely for an answer. On July 5, a much-delayed season will begin with the first of two grands prix in Austria, with further races in Hungary, Spain and Belgium to be confirmed imminently.
Silverstone is the one glaring hole in the sport's European calendar, and F1 chiefs are unlikely to wait until June 29, when the quarantine rules are subject to their first three-weekly review, before finalising the schedule.
The track generates up to £30 million (€33.5m) annually from its signature race. It has been in positive dialogue with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in recent days, with a view to convincing Johnson that the races should go ahead as planned.
If negotiations are successful, it will embolden other sports potentially affected under the quarantine system - not least British football clubs still involved in European competition - to press their cases.
Hockenheim, the German circuit that was not even included on the original roster for 2020, has been lined up as an alternative to Silverstone.
The potential switch is one that David Richards, the chairman of Motorsport UK, claims would be a "terrible loss". As such, Stuart Pringle, Silverstone's managing director, explained yesterday that the track was ready to draw up contingencies.
"We have our original dates in mid- to late-July, but actually we have a degree of flexibility through August as well," he said. "I don't think that finding a date for F1 is going to be a problem, or indeed two dates. What we need is the green light from the government, and that will take time." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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