Silverstone would be “delighted” to host a second Formula 1 race later this season, if F1 bosses needed an additional venue to meet its target of 23 races.
The home of the British Grand Prix is set to host a capacity crowd of 140,000 fans this Sunday, and a combined crowd of more than 300,000 over the race weekend, which will easily be the UK’s largest Covid-era crowd.
Circuit managing director Stuart Pringle said had that not happened, it’s very likely the circuit would have faced financial collapse, and is thankful the government gave the venue permission to push ahead with its capacity plans.
“It’s absolutely fair to say that [we would have gone under], and it was a very strong motivating factor for us. Coming off second really wasn’t an option for us,” Pringle told the PA news agency.
“We are far from alone in being an events business which is not capable of surviving two full summer seasons without paying spectators, and for Silverstone that has to include the British Grand Prix because it’s by far our biggest event.
“It had to happen or the country was at risk of losing one of its most important national sporting assets.”
Last year the venue hosted two races, but both were behind closed doors with fans unable to attend, meaning the circuit relied on a payment from F1 to survive the summer months.
With Covid still a major problem around the world, other races are expected to struggle to go ahead with their plans and some, including the Australian GP, have already been cancelled.
If F1 required a circuit to step in and host another race – like Austria has already done this year – Silverstone would be happy to do so according to Pringle, though he insists it’s not something that’s been discussed.
“If we can help by having a race later in the season then we would be delighted to assist,” he added.
“Formula 1 deserve remarkable credit that they completed 17 races last year – the only global sport to have achieved such a feat – and I hope they can complete the calendar again.
“We haven’t been asked, and it’s not a conversation I’ve prompted, but if us hosting another race gets the championship to a sensible level, of course we would help.”
There is talk of a second race in Bahrain later in the season, with a handful of races unlikely to go ahead including Japan and Brazil, which could see the calendar cut to 21 races if no alternative venues are found.