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Silverstone agrees two-race F1 deal, Belgian GP to go ahead without fans

A rear view of the start during the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

Silverstone has reached an agreement to stage two Formula 1 races behind closed doors this summer, while the regional government of Wallonia has ruled that this year’s edition of the Belgian Grand Prix can also go ahead without fans.

F1 is yet to start its 2020 season and has been forced to either postpone or cancel a number of events since March. The series has yet to officially confirm its provisional calendar but Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle has told BBC Sport that a deal has been signed “in principle” for the Northamptonshire circuit to host back-to-back events in July and August.

The agreement has been reached following negotiations this week between F1 and the British Racing Drivers’ Club, which owns Silverstone. BBC Sport had previously reported that Silverstone was seeking £15m (€16.8m/$18.3m) to host the two races but a compromise has now been reached.

The events would be held following back-to-back races in Austria, according to a provisional calendar reported by the Autosport website. Autosport reported that the season is set to begin with double-header rounds in Austria on July 5 and 12 and will be followed by the Silverstone races in late July and early August.

Pringle told BBC Sport: “I am delighted to confirm that Silverstone and Formula 1 have reached an agreement in principle to host two races behind closed doors this summer.

“However these races will be subject to government approval, as our priority is the safety of all involved and strict compliance with Covid-19 regulations.

“I would like to thank all our fans who have been so supportive throughout this and to assure them we are determined to do all we can to help Formula 1 put on a show this summer.”

An F1 spokesman told BBC Sport: “We are continuing to have conversations with Silverstone and other promoters regarding a revised 2020 calendar.”

Plans to stage the two races at Silverstone may be complicated by a new rule in the UK which stipulates that all international visitors must self-isolate for 14 days upon entering the country.

Under the latest provisional version of the calendar reported by Autosport, there is no place for grands prix in the Netherlands, Canada and Singapore, but the Belgian Grand Prix looks set to form part of the schedule.

The ruling by the government of Wallonia means that the Belgian Grand Prix can go ahead without fans on August 30 once the Spa-Francorchamps circuit has reached a deal with F1 owner Liberty Media. The Belgian government has banned all mass events in the country until August 31.

The Wallonia government has also announced that individual professionals can train at Spa from next Monday. The government said that the two authorisations will only be valid on the conditions that social distancing measures are adhered to and the necessary hygiene and sanitary procedures are carried out.

Stijn De Boever, commercial director for the Belgian Grand Prix, told Autosport that the circuit already had a “basic agreement” in place with F1 but required the green light from the government for the race to go ahead.

Autosport added that events in Hungary, Spain, Italy, Azerbaijan, Russia, China, Japan, USA, Mexico, Brazil and Vietnam are also on the provisional calendar, along with two races in Bahrain and the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Events in Australia, Monaco and France have already been cancelled outright.