Silverstone open to holding second F1 race on reverse track

2020 British Grand Prix

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Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle says the circuit would be willing to host a second round of the world championship this year and run the track in reverse direction if needed.

The idea has come about due to the need to ensure as many world championship races go ahead as possible following the disruption caused by the global pandemic.

The British Grand Prix is due to take place at Silverstone on July 19th. The race promoters have said they will decide by the end of the month whether it will go ahead.

If the race does take place, Pringle said the idea that holding a second event on a reverse layout is “not such a silly thought”.

“We’re not licensed to run the other way but these are extraordinary times and I guess that extraordinary decisions are being made,” he told Sky. “So nothing is off the table.

“But equally let’s see what the next four weeks turn out like. It’s difficult for Formula 1. They’re not just looking at what’s going on in Great Britain. They’re looking at what’s going on in the world and how their travel arrangements have to fit in to any future schedule. It’s perhaps not such a crazy question.”

Other sports are also looking into the possibility of holding events ‘behind closed doors’ without fans to ensure they can go ahead. Pringle said this is something Silverstone does not want, but may have to accept.

“The thought of a race without [fans] would be rather odd. But I said to Formula 1 that we’ll work with you however to help you get a championship away and if we can help is required if it helps you get a championship [completed].”

Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
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One advantage Silverstone has is that the majority of F1’s teams are based within the same country.

“All I’ve done is say to Formula 1 we are willing to work with them in any way, shape or form that they think is in the best interests of the championship,” he said.

“The majority of the teams are within a stone’s throw of the circuit, so operationally it would be pretty straightforward.

“We’ve got the fixed infrastructure, the staff could go home to their own beds of an evening in large parts, so if that’s how we can help then I’d be delighted to do that.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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50 comments on “Silverstone open to holding second F1 race on reverse track”

  1. Are we really desperate enough to consider running unlicensed track with compromised safety just to get some variety? (When in reality we don’t know if there will be any racing this year at all, and frankly, there are greater things at play than the number of races Formula 1 puts on while the world reels from the effects of a pandemic.)

    1. I think, maybe, that will all be taken into consideration and fixed to get approved?

      As much as we have to wait and see and not be silly, we also cannot just go, “ah forget it”.

      1. I believe MotoGP run at Silverstone in the other direction, if it’s safe for MotoGP surely it’s safe for F1.

        1. @hohum MotoGP runs in the same direction. Honestly, judging by a satellite image of the circuit, Copse looks suicidal in reverse direction.

          1. @warheart, thanks for that, like I say below there is no real need to reverse the direction.

    2. unlicensed track with compromised safety

      Maybe, before doing so, they would make sure it’s safe, fix any issues and license it in the reverse direction?

      there are greater things at play than the number of races Formula 1 puts on while the world reels from the effects of a pandemic

      Yes, there are. However, as with every business they need to plan for what happens after the crisis is over. They need to consider as many scenarios as possible and make the best preparations they can to keep their business running in each. To do otherwise would be negligent.

    3. antony obrien
      3rd April 2020, 9:41

      Important enough for you to read and comment on it Prosterchen.

      Not a big fan of these’ think about the children’ posts. If it means so much to you go out and do something constructive and stop wasting your time on racefan sites

  2. Hmmm, seems highly unlikely. The run off areas are all designed for running the circuit clockwise. You’d need too many modifications to the circuit to drive copse, stowe, abbey, and club in an anti clockwise direction.

  3. I’d rather see every race take place on a different layout of Paul Ricard before bothering to watch Silverstone twice. Once a year is already a drag.

    1. I’d rather not see any race at Paul Ricard irrespective of the layout!

    2. Silverstone is a drag and Paul Ricard isn’t…???…the same Paul Ricard that holds the worst score in the rate-the-race category, even below Germany 2010, the “Felipe, Fernando is faster than you” race…???

      In other news, Sochi is way more beautiful track to look at, than Spa… /s

    3. @klon I’d be in favor of that as well. A second French GP without the Mistral Straight-chicane, but the rest of the track-layout the same as in the last two seasons.

      1. @jerrejj, The point of Silverstone is minimising TRAVEL ! The proximity of the teams is what makes Silverstone not only the obvious choice but the only choice.

        1. @hohum The obvious choice for seven out of the ten teams.

          1. @jerejj, yep ! 7 out of ten, and the other track for the other 3 would be ?

        2. @hohum Monza for Ferrari and AlphaTauri. Alfa Romeo is based in Hinwill, Switzerland, so the closest current F1-circuit to their factory is either Monza or Red Bull Ring.

  4. Running in reverse direction may be a little bit too extreme, use another existing layout (for example the national one) still sounds workable to me.

    1. @sb12 National circuit would likely be way too short & it’s also not an especially good layout.

    1. As a circuit to lap, it doesn’t look bad, but it would be impossible to give enough run off at Copse in particular and the exit of backwards Maggots or Aintree, without contemplating Stowe or Abbey. It’d be like going back to a Tamburello mentality.

    2. @sravan-pe @eurobrun The amount of run-off area approaching Copse and Aintree in the opposite direction would indeed be insufficient for the approach-speeds achieved running in that direction. Luffield and Chapel would also be on the edge in that regard. To a lesser extent, Also, Abbey, Stowe, and Club.

  5. VissileF1 (@mark-visser99)
    2nd April 2020, 18:09

    How do you know it would be compromised safety running the other direction?
    Looking at google maps satellite view – all corners except for Copse, Abbey and maybe Maggots, seem decently suited for running in reverse. Obviously they’d need to review and make changes to the safety, but it doesn’t seem insurmountable. Probably a lot more doable than trying to cram a triple header fly away into the end of 2020.

    1. @mark-visser99 Also Aintree, Luffield, Chapel, Stowe, and Club.

      1. What about MotoGP, same approach speeds, less rubber, less protection.
        But why bother, just because the track is the same doesn’t mean the races will be the same.

    2. @mark-visser99 It’s not just about the runoff although that would still be a big issue.

      All of the gaps that are in the barriers to recover stopped cars & the access roads that lead to them as well as the marshal post’s & catch fencing supports as well as the kerning are all designed around the circuit been run a certain way as are the pit entry/exits.

      In order to get the circuit passed & ready to run in reverse they would need to spend a fortune altering all that because it would be a massive amount of work, Especially if they then have to put it all back to run the other way again.

      There is a reason only 2 circuits in the world (Knockhill and Slovakiaring) are setup to be run both ways. It’s not cheap or each to have all these things setup to be run multiple directions & it’s also not cheap or easy to switch back & forth.

    3. Run the old track using bridge corner? It’s already there should not be too hard to bring it back to it’s old standard.

  6. Interesting.. would one expect the best laptime for the reverse track to be the same as the normal track, or is it more complicated than that? would the cars be set up identically?

  7. It seems that some of the guys in the comments have missed the point. It’s a usual folklore of the British promoters to talk about the race in reverse direction, mostly around the 1st of April. Cheers and move on.

    1. In itself fair enough, but it is April 2nd.

  8. Do the old layout! Do the old layout. Oh..

  9. Running Silverstone in reverse used to be an April’s Fools day joke… Why would anyone consider it for real?

    1. Bart, I think the reason why people might have believed it is because, firstly, it was a comment made amongst a wider discussion about the British Grand Prix that gave it credibility for being a genuine idea.

      Secondly, when people have talked about running more than one race at the same circuit – and it seems that the proposal to hold a second event at Silverstone is a serious proposal – the idea of running the circuit in reverse doesn’t sound like that much more of a stretch.

  10. Impracticable due to the run-off areas, specific marshal-post locations, etc. The amount of run-off area at parts of the circuit is insufficient for the approach-speeds achieved running in the opposite direction, especially in the opposite direction of the Wellington straight, as well as, approaching Copse from Maggots-Becketts combination. Lewis threw this idea about Sochi Autodrom during the 2018-event, and it wasn’t well-received precisely because of these factors which make changing the running direction for any race track practically impossible. Changing the running direction for a rally-stage is a different matter, and perfectly achievable, but not for circuit-racing.

  11. Wasn’t April’s fools yesterday?

  12. Keith, I thought you don’t like April Fools jokes.

  13. With the first mention of running the track in reverse, what instantly came to mind for me was almost three decades of playing racing video games and how often mods were posted to allow running tracks in reverse. I seem to recall that certain games even had that as an option if you wanted to assemble a fantasy schedule of events.

  14. José Lopes da Silva
    2nd April 2020, 22:11

    We could have 2 races in Silverstone, one in Donington Park and another in Brands Hatch. Cool!

  15. Silverstone could use the 2009 trac,k Bridge Grand Prix circuit for the second race, it would take a bit of organisation to replace crash barriers on Farm Straight and remove the earth bank at proiry and brooklands but its a grerat circuit and imagine the current formula 1 cars flat out through Bridge corner, an awesome spectacle

  16. Robert McKay
    2nd April 2020, 22:56

    It’s a kind of cool idea, if it is halfway serious. The Virtual GP could do it!

    But surely the bigger issue is they’re already looking at having to make a decision about a July race by the end of April, so talking about two races when the first one looks a bit dodgy seems…optimistic.

  17. This is a crazy idea designed to grab headlines. Tracks and run offs are designed with one direction in mind. It’s impossible to run it the other way without extensive work at the track.

    Which begs the question, is there a track in the world that actually held races going the other way round?

    1. @fer-no65 I second this! Tracks that have been run in reverse, anyone got any suggestions? It hasn’t happened in F1, but has it happened elsewhere?

      1. Knockhill in Scotland is ran both directions, not for f1 of course.

    2. @fer-no65 asides from Knockhill, you could also look at Brands Hatch – when that first opened in 1950, it was originally an anti-clockwise circuit.

      It only ran in that configuration for a few years though – I think that, from 1954 onwards (i.e. once the Druids Hill Bend was in operation), they switched the direction round and ran the circuit in a clockwise configuration after that. I don’t think there were ever any Formula 1 races held in that reverse direction though – I think maybe only to the level of Formula 3 events.

  18. I think that racing the opposite direction will require moving grandstands, gravel traps and escape areas. That’s because the outside of a turn needs large escape areas. But sometimes there are grandstands by the end of a straight which will be too close to the end of a turn on the reverse track. The costs will be prohibitive.

  19. What about running two races at Spa, the second in reverse direction? (i don’t know if it would meet the run-off areas requirements)

    Then there’s Monaco, why not there? There are negligible run-off areas for the normal direction, so it should not be too difficult to make it possible to run the opposite direction.

    1. If you want to see 18 out of 20 cars out in the first (last) corner, Anthony Noghes, that racing backwards in Monaco is a brilliant idea.

    2. @not Shouty Insufficient run-off area for La Source in the opposite direction.

  20. Independent of the valid aforementioned safety, logistical and cost considerstions, would the racing actually be any good?

    Overtaking would be much harder since you would have sharp corners leading into straights with faster corners (in relative terms) at the end which is the opposite of traditional circuit design, Luffield maybe the only exception to this.

  21. Here we go again, the subject of the article is “running more than 1 race at Silverstone, for TV only”, but all anybody wants to talk about is the impossibility of racing in the opposite direction, as though that is the only way it could be done.

    1. ColdFly (@)
      3rd April 2020, 16:18

      Had they proposed to run it upside down and call it the Down Under GP, then nobody would’ve complained.

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