LONDON – World champion Lewis Hamilton fears it is “premature” to allow a capacity 140,000 crowd to attend the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Following talks between the British government and Silverstone chiefs, the race in July will be watched by the biggest sporting crowd in the country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year.
The British Grand Prix takes place on July 18 and Silverstone bosses will be allowed to sell out for the entire weekend of qualifying and the race itself.
However, Hamilton said he “was kind of split” over the issue.
“I read that the vaccination is good for there is less people being in hospital but it feels a bit premature to me (to have a full crowd),” the British star said at Spielberg in Austria where he was preparing for this weekend's Styrian Grand Prix.
“But people go there, I hope we learn something from it, and I hope everyone stays safe.”
Hamilton insisted he did not want to put too negative a spin on the announcement.
“I can't tell you how excited I am to see people and the British crowd because it is the best crowd of the whole year,” he said.
“Last year we didn't have them, so to be able to see them and feel the energy that they bring into a weekend.
“(But) obviously I watch the news so I hear about the cases going up massively in the UK. So on that side I worry for people, naturally.”
Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle is understood to have stressed to Government officials that the circuit would go bust if fans were not permitted.
“It is fantastic news that Silverstone will be a full capacity event and it will be an incredible weekend with hundreds of thousands of fans being there to see our first Sprint event on the Saturday and the main event on Sunday,” said Formula One president Stefano Domenicali.
“I want to express my huge appreciation to The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, Secretaries of State, Oliver Dowden and Michael Gove and Silverstone Managing Director, Stuart Pringle for their tireless work to achieve this great outcome. All of the drivers and the teams are hugely looking forward to Silverstone and we can't wait to be there in July.”
Both last year's British and 70th Anniversary Grands Prix at Silverstone took place behind closed doors.
Silverstone made the case that their 70,000 grandstand seats at the former Royal Air Force base are scattered over 3.5 miles, while the event is not reliant on public transport with the large majority of spectators arriving in cars.
Ticket holders will be asked for either proof of a negative lateral flow test, taken within 48 hours of arriving at Silverstone, or be fully vaccinated.
It was announced earlier this week that more than 60,000 fans will be allowed to attend the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 at Wembley.
Wimbledon's Centre Court is also set to be at its full 15,000 capacity for the women's and men's singles finals on July 10 and July 11, while Royal St George's will admit up to 32,000 spectators a day for the British Open golf.