Silverstone gets go-ahead for two races as F1 prepares for return

Two races will be held at Silverstone behind closed doors in 2020. Charles Coates/Getty Images

Formula One is set to host two races behind closed doors at Silverstone this summer after the British government gave assurances that F1's travelling staff would be able to enter the country and continue to work despite U.K. quarantine rules.

F1 will need to submit plans of the measures it will take to combat the spread of the coronavirus in order to gain formal approval, but the two races at the Northamptonshire circuit are now scheduled for consecutive weekends over August 2 and August 9. There had been concerns that the U.K.'s 14-day quarantine period for international travellers arriving in the country would make it impossible to host a race at Silverstone, but F1 is expected to be among a number of international sports events permitted to apply for an exemption.

As part of F1's plans to return to racing, teams will be limited to 80 personnel each and kept apart from each other at the circuit to limit the possibility of coronavirus transmission. Paddock staff will be tested for the virus before leaving for races and tested every two days on arrival. In order to limit contact with the public, they are due to be flown on chartered jets as well as staying in block-booked hotels within driving distance of the circuit.

The two Silverstone races will form part of an eight-race European calendar, starting with two races in Austria on July 5 and July 12. F1 will then head straight to Hungary for a third race on July 19 before a one-week break ahead of the double-header at Silverstone. A race at the Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona will follow on Aug. 16 before another break ahead of the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix on their original dates of Aug. 30 and Sept. 6, respectively.

The eight European races will be announced on Tuesday, with plans to move the series to Asia and the Americas in the following months yet to be confirmed. The season will end with races in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, but it is not yet clear if they will host double headers like Silverstone.