British Grand Prix boss Stuart Pringle is desperate for spectators to be able to attend his race at Silverstone Circuit in July. And get this, he’s hopeful of a 140,000-strong sellout on race day.
The COVID-19 pandemic might have a little bit to say about that, as it as for the past year.
“We have been hit with a double-whammy because the other side of our business is conferences and exhibitions, and they have not been able to happen either,” Pringle said of the desperate conditions many tracks are facing. “Our 70,000 grandstand seats are spread out over three-and-a-half miles. I want the 2021 British GP to take place with the largest number of fans attending as possible.
“That is hugely important to Silverstone so we will do whatever it takes to play our part in proving it is safe to do so. Anything is possible, but it has also been made clear that it is far from guaranteed.”
Some might scold Pringle or other F1 officials for pushing for the return of crowds so soon, but the British GP chief makes clear that the financial situation is serious. Last year, Silverstone hosted a pair of races, including the celebrated 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, with empty grandstands.
“It has been extremely difficult,” Pringle said. “We have had no revenue, but have had all the costs of keeping a 550 acre site licensed, serviceable and capable of coming back.”
It’s a similar story for the F1 teams, with AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost saying that Alpha Tauri, not unlike the Red Bull-owned team’s rivals, took a major financial hit in 2020.
“I don’t want to go back to a season like 2020 in which we didn’t get a decent amount of money because there were fewer races and not enough spectators,” Tost told European media outlet Auto Motor und Sport. “This year is also critical because we are developing two cars in parallel (2021 and 2022 models), so I really hope that all the races will take place and that spectators will be able to come again so that the organizers can generate income.”
When asked if AlphaTauri could collapse amid the situation, Tost insisted: “Our survival is not at risk. But obviously Red Bull won’t sit there forever if the teams are always in the red. I really hope we can somehow get that back on track.”
BY GLOBAL MOTORSPORTS MEDIA / Auto Week