Silverstone F1 races get green light from United Kingdom government

Ross Houston
June 1, 2020

The 2020 championship has, like all sports across the world, been immeasurably disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Liberty Media, the teams and the FIA have discussed the idea of using the doubleheader races planned for Austria and Silverstone to try a reverse grid sprint race that would replace qualifying for one of the two events held at the same circuit. After a one-off event at the Hungaroring, another brace of consecutive races are tentatively scheduled for Silverstone in August.

Formula One is expected to confirm a truncated, eight-race European summer calendar, with two British grands prix marked as provisional in case of an extension to strict United Kingdom quarantine rules. The normal qualifying format would then be in place for the other race weekend.


It's hoped that taking a radical new approach to the weekend format will prevent a sense of deja vu repetition setting in as a result of holding multiple races at the same circuit.

F1 hoped to get the heavily-delayed 2020 season off the ground with back-to-back races in Austria in early July before returning to Britain for another double-header event at Silverstone, but the plans were dented by the introduction of the United Kingdom government's new quarantine rules which will force worldwide arrivals to observe a 14-day quarantine period from June 8.

The experiment was mooted already a year ago, before COVID-19 played havoc with the calendar, with Formula One keen on having three reverse grid races in 2020.


On the following Saturday a 30-minute race with a grid ordered in reverse championship standings would be held to decide qualifying positions for the second race. A formal vote will take place next week. This non-points scoring sprint race would determine the grid for Sunday.

Although the FIA introduced a "60% rule" to ensure that major rules changes go through during the COVID-19 crisis with up to four teams opposed, the reverse-grid plan is not considered as an urgent priority, and hence unanimity is required.

The race at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg will be the first of an F1 double-header, with the second being staged the following weekend.


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