Silverstone boss Stuart Pringle says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that the British Grand Prix this year will welcome fans and potentially at levels seen in a normal year.
The British GP is the most attended event on the Formula 1 calendar, welcoming over 340,000 fans across three days of action. However like the majority of races on the calendar last year, was forced to run behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday the British government outlined its plans to return to normality with the lifting of lockdown restrictions. This includes the return of spectators to events and will be a boost to online sports betting which has suffered because of the pandemic. Although crowds will initially be limited to 10,000 fans or 25% of the total seat capacity from 17 May.
However this could be lifted entirely in mid-June when the government hopes to lift all remaining restrictions, although it depends on a number of factors including the successful rollout of the vaccine to the majority of the population.
Speaking to BBC 5 Live, Silverstone managing director Pringle said he’s hopeful a capacity crowd can happen, but remained cautious.
“I’m cautiously optimistic but there is a long way to go,” he said.
“But the requirements have been clearly set out. There are variables that are within nobody’s control, like if another variant of concern were to arrive, or if there was a problem with the vaccination roll-out.
“But equally, things have been going well, and I think that people want to get behind an opportunity that gives some light at the end of the tunnel.
“The government is right to point out this is the fourth step. Things could go wrong at every stage so it’s by no means certain. It’s very difficult as a promoter.”
Pringle added that the idea of a vaccine passport or attendance being linked to the NHS app, could possibly be an interesting solution to allowing a greater number of fans to attend with reduced risk.
“Those of us who run sports stadia have been talking to the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport about potentially hooking in our electronic ticket apps to the NHS app to find a way of validating your entry ticket, if you have got the correct test result on your NHS app,” he added.
“So I think it’s absolutely worth exploring, and I think fans would go for it. I think fans, if it involves a little bit of effort, or possibly even a bit of cost, the chance to go and see your team, to see your favourite sport, that’s something that we’d all consider this summer.”