THE British Grand Prix is OFF – unless the Government changes its strict new quarantine rules.
Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed yesterday that new arrivals in the UK would be forced to self-isolate for 14 days, starting from June 8th.
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While haulage lorry drivers are exempt from the rules, racing drivers aren’t, and neither would overseas staff from Ferrari, AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo, plus tyre suppliers Pirelli and the sport’s governing body, the FIA.
The British GP has run every year since 1948 and was set to host F1’s 70th birthday bash.
F1 chiefs now face a race against time to try and persuade the Government to rush through a list of exemptions in time for the race, set for July 19th.
An F1 spokesperson said: “We have been working closely with the Government on the implications of the policy for Formula One and Silverstone.
“Those discussions are ongoing at this time with the aim of finding a solution with safety as our first priority.”
Unveiling details during the daily No10 briefing, Ms Patel said: “We do not take this step lightly. Our freedom has sadly but necessarily been curtailed.
“With so much having been done to push down the rate of infection, any new arrivals entering the country with this disease will have a much bigger impact.
“We will not allow a small and reckless minority to endanger us all.”
While seven of the 10 F1 teams are based in the UK, it is simply not an option to run the race without the other three.
F1 MD, Ross Brawn said in March that if the coronavirus restrictions prevented teams from travelling, the race would not count.
He said: “If a team is prevented from entering a country, we can’t have a race. Not a Formula One world championship race, anyway, because that would be unfair.”
Talks will now continue between F1 and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to allow F1 teams to arrive in the UK under the exemption for elite sports.
And Silverstone boss Stuart Pringle said he was hopeful that those conditions could be met in time.
He added: “It’s a very complex sport to get going because it’s a global championship with a huge logistical tail.
“So Formula One does need to know that it can set off on its global travel and be able to come in and out of its home base.
“I am very clear that the importance of the industry is understood by the government. I remain very optimistic that they will find a way.
“I’m very, very conscious that it’s extremely complicated drafting these things and working up against ever-moving deadlines – it’s not a task I’d wish to undertake.
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“So I remain optimistic that a sensible and pragmatic solution, which puts the onus on the sport quite rightly to come up with the right solution, can be found.
“This isn’t just 90 minutes of an exciting sporting race. This is about getting an industry back to work.”
Should F1 fail to overturn the rules, it is likely that the sport will head from the Austria GP double-header to either Germany or Hungary.