British Grand Prix cleared for capacity crowd after being added to pilot event list

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There will be the welcome sight of spectators at Silverstone next month - PA
There will be the welcome sight of spectators at Silverstone next month - PA

The British Grand Prix was cleared to have a 140,000 capacity crowd, and the Open Championship to be three-quarters full, after being added to the Government’s list of pilot events for the return of spectators.

Telegraph Sport can reveal Silverstone will join the Wimbledon singles finals in being allowed to sell out for the entire weekend of July 16-18 before the new planned end to the UK’s coronavirus restrictions of July 19.

The Open at Royal St George’s on July 15-18 has also been permitted to have 32,000 spectators in line with what organisers had been hoping for before ‘freedom day’ was postponed from June 21. A statement from the Open organisers the R&A read: "We can now confirm that we will be able to welcome up to 32,000 fans on each championship day of the 149th Open at Royal St George's and that this will include those existing ticketholders and hospitality guests who have already purchased tickets."

The Government announced earlier this week that the Wimbledon singles finals would become the first major outdoor events since the coronavirus began to have capacity crowds.

It also confirmed the Championships would begin at 50 per cent capacity and that the climax of football’s European Championship would also witness a half-full Wembley.

But with grandstands able to hold 70,000 spectators and another 70,000 also able to attend, Silverstone will have the biggest crowd in the UK since the first national lockdown in March last year.

As a 550-acre outdoor site, the track is the largest major sporting venue in the country, with its seats spread around a 3.6-mile track.

The vast majority of the spectators who usually attend a Grand Prix weekend also travel to the circuit by car.

That would avoid the prospect of thousands of spectators being crammed in together on public transport – something seen as far more likely to spread Covid-19 than a relaxation of social distancing in an outdoor grandstand.

Silverstone has been selling tickets on the basis of being at capacity and Telegraph Sport has been told it is close to a sell-out.

Having lost millions of pounds last year by staging back-to-back grands prix behind closed doors, it is desperate to avoid another major shortfall by being forced to cap attendance next month.

Rugby league’s Challenge Cup final on July 17 and an England cricket international were also close to being added to the Government’s list of crowd pilots, which would allow them to exceed the current cap of 10,000 spectators at major outdoor events.

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