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    Toto Wolff reveals ‘mid-life crisis’ before Mercedes F1 career and thoughts of quitting amid Covid mental health strife

    MERCEDES chief Toto Wolff has revealed he considered walking away from Formula One while struggling during the coronavirus lockdown.Having put together a hugely successful record as team principal of the seven-time double world champions, the Austrian has opened up on how he very nearly didn’t get into motorsport at all.
    Toto Wolff is guiding Lewis Hamilton in their latest world title bidCredit: PA
    After a career behind the wheel, the 49-year-old opened up on a ‘mid-life crisis’ he experienced before getting involved with the Williams F1 team just over ten years ago.
    Wolff told a University of Oxford discussion, via GPfans: “I found out that as someone who is more in the spotlight in front of a camera representing fantastic brands such as Mercedes and Petronas, I need to be authentic.
    “But I have also seen that when I see people that have, let’s say, more visible roles, you tend to think they are happy and have everything in their lives.
    “Good relationships, money and success… The truth is, that is not a universal rule.
    “I myself, before I joined F1, I had a real mid-life crisis. I didn’t know whether I should stay in finance or whether I should do something else and I found myself at the Monaco Grand Prix, by sheer coincidence.
    “For me, everybody who was there working for the teams was living just the perfect life, so fast forward 20 years and I find myself in the same situation.
    Covid came and I didn’t know if I wanted to continue in the sport, if I was a one-trick pony.Toto Wolff
    “We just need to understand that we all have bad days, bad weeks or bad months where we need to spend time with ourselves and comprehend what makes us happy and not.
    “I think this reflection helps you better understand how you want to structure your life.
    “Like many other people, I’ve struggled from mental health issues and I have a great team.
    “This is not a universal, ‘I am pathologically ill’, it is more that I acknowledge that all the best people I have worked with, they have down time.
    “And if they have a great group around them, the group will carry the ball. For me, that was last year.
    “Covid came and I didn’t know if I wanted to continue in the sport, if I was a one-trick pony or whether finance was where I wanted to come back [to].

    🏁 F1 2021 calendar: practice times, dates and racetrack info
    “And for months, I couldn’t find an answer to my question and then you are not your best self.
    “In order to protect the organisation, in order to create the best possible framework, you need to look after yourself.”
    Wolff is guiding Lewis Hamilton towards a potential record-breaking eighth championship.
    And he paid tribute to the work of the entire Mercedes team in ensuring everyone is able to look after their mental health.
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    He continued: “This is something my technical director [James Allison] used when I said, ‘I am just not the best me and I will come back in a few days’.
    “He said, ‘Take all the time because when you come back, you need to sprinkle your magic dust. If you don’t feel like you can at the moment then that is okay, we will carry the ball’.
    “That is something that I found really reassuring and showed that the organisation that we have all been a part of is really strong, that if you need to put yourself out for a moment, someone else is going to carry the ball.”
    Contact the Samaritans
    If you have been affected by mental health issues and just want to talk, contact The Samaritans on 116 123. They are available for free at anytime.
    Or email https://www.samaritans.org/

    Mercedes chief Toto Wolff insists Lewis Hamilton’s new £40m deal was never in doubt More

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    Lewis Hamilton rules out move into politics after F1 career as Mercedes star says ‘I’m just trying to make contribution’

    LEWIS HAMILTON has distanced himself from a future career in politics despite his continued success as a campaigner for equality.At 36, the beknighted Formula One world champion’s racing career is in its final stretch and speculation continues over what he will dedicate his time to when he lets go of the steering wheel.
    Lewis Hamilton has not been afraid to discuss political issues in recent yearsCredit: Getty
    The Brit has been invigorated by the increased calls for racial justice since the police killing of George Floyd in the United States.
    F1 has been compelled to enhance its own anti-racism message as a result with Hamilton regularly donning T-shirts in support of Black Lives Matter and the Justice for Breonna Taylor movement in the paddock.
    But he will not be pulling on a rosette and seeking election after he calls it a day in F1.
    Hamilton laughed when asked about the move by Corriere della Sera, and said: “No! I’m not good at politics.
    “I’m just trying to make my contribution, to find a way to get messages across.
    “To make sure my five-year-old nephew, and those of his generation, don’t live what we have. So that they find a more open world.”

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    🏁 F1 2021 calendar: practice times, dates and racetrack info
    Hamilton is one of a growing number of sports stars getting involved in how society operates, alongside the likes of Marcus Rashford.
    Yet many of the great and the good stay away from potentially volatile political topics, something which the Mercedes star understands but feels shows a disconnect to the real world.
    Hamilton added: “Many don’t talk because they don’t know enough, and I respect them.
    “But I also don’t see why they can’t learn.
    We live in times when everyone comments on everything, sometimes without even trying to understand. Lewis Hamilton

    “We live in times when everyone comments on everything, sometimes without even trying to understand.
    “I was reading reactions to the war between Israel and Palestine, the majority are people who have never set foot in those places or who have not read anything.
    “There are those who say who cares and those who are worried, I feel responsibility.”
    Lewis Hamilton says winning a record-breaking eighth world championship will not determine whether he quits Formula One at the end of the year More

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    F1 calendar 2021: Grand Prix times, schedule, tracks with French Grand Prix NEXT and Singapore GP CANCELLED

    THE 2021 Formula 1 season is two races in with Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen set for a season-long scrap for the title.But Hamilton seems to have all the early momentum after winning the last two races in Portugal and Spain, with Monte Carlo up next.

    🏁 F1 2021 calendar: practice times, dates and racetrack info
    Lewis Hamilton is aiming to become the outright most successful driver of all timeCredit: Getty
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    The Brit, 36, moved level with Michael Schumacher on seven world titles last year and will become the outright top dog if he collects the most points across this season’s races.
    In a season that has already seen shifts and changes to the calendar, the Australian Grand Prix was due to take place on the weekend of March 21, but was put back to November 21 because of coronavirus restrictions Down Under.
    Turkey had replaced Canada as the Grand Prix destination on June 13, but it was then axed by F1 chiefs on safety grounds.
    And in April the world governing body approved sprint races in the British, Brazilian and Italian Grand Prix as a replacement for qualifying.
    Here is how the F1 calendar unfolds in 2021 with our race by race schedule.
    F1 calendar 2021
    All timings below are UK time.
    🇧🇭 Bahrain Grand Prix
    🏆 Grand Prix Result: 1. Lewis Hamilton 2. Max Verstappen 3. Valtteri Bottas

    Venue: Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir
    Friday, March 26: Practice 1 (11.30am), Practice 2 (3pm)
    Saturday, March 27: Practice 3 (12pm), Qualifying (3pm)
    Sunday, March 28: Race (4pm)

    🇮🇹 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
    🏆 Grand Prix Result: 1. Max Verstappen 2. Lewis Hamilton 3. Lando Norris

    Venue: Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola
    Friday, April 16: Practice 1 (10.30am), Practice 2 (2pm)
    Saturday, April 17: Practice 3 (11am), Qualifying (2pm)
    Sunday, April 18: Race (2pm)

    🇵🇹 Portuguese Grand Prix
    🏆 Grand Prix Result: 1. Lewis Hamilton 2. Max Verstappen 3. Valtteri Bottas

    Venue: Autodromo Internacional do Algarve
    Friday, April 30: Practice 1 (11.30am), Practice 2 (3pm)
    Saturday, May 1: Practice 3 (12pm), Qualifying (3pm)
    Sunday, May 2: Race (3pm)

    🇪🇸 Spanish Grand Prix
    🏆 Grand Prix Result: 1. Lewis Hamilton 2. Max Verstappen 3. Valtteri Bottas

    Venue: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
    Friday, May 7: Practice 1 (10.30am), Practice 2 (2pm)
    Saturday, May 8: Practice 3 (11am), Qualifying (2pm)
    Sunday, May 9: Race (2pm)

    🇲🇨 Monaco Grand Prix
    🏆 Grand Prix Result: 1. Max Verstappen 2. Carlos Sainz 3. Lando Norris

    Venue: Circuit de Monaco in Monte Carlo
    Thursday, May 20: Practice 1 (10.30am), Practice 2 (2pm)
    Saturday, May 22: Practice 3 (11am), Qualifying (2pm)
    Sunday, May 23: Race (2pm)

    🇦🇿 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
    🏆 Grand Prix Result: 1. Sergio Perez 2. Sebastian Vettel 3. Pierre Gasly

    Venue: Baku City Circuit
    Friday, June 4: Practice 1 (9.30am), Practice 2 (1pm)
    Saturday, June 5: Practice 3 (10am), Qualifying (1pm)
    Sunday, June 6: Race (1pm)

    🇨🇦 Canadian Grand Prix – CANCELLED

    🇹🇷 Turkish Grand Prix – CANCELLED

    🇫🇷 French Grand Prix – NEXT

    Venue: Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet
    Friday, June 18: Practice 1 (10.30am), Practice 2 (2pm)
    Saturday, June 19: Practice 3 (11am), Qualifying (2pm)
    Sunday, June 20: Race (2pm)

    🇦🇹 Styrian Grand Prix

    Venue: Red Bull Ring, Spielberg
    Friday, June 25: Practice 1 (10.30am), Practice 2 (2pm)
    Saturday, June 26: Practice 3 (11am), Qualifying (2pm)
    Sunday, June 27: Race (2pm)

    🇦🇹 Austrian Grand Prix

    Venue: Red Bull Ring, Spielberg
    Friday, July 2: Practice 1 (10.30am), Practice 2 (2pm)
    Saturday, July 3: Practice 3 (11am), Qualifying (2pm)
    Sunday, July 4: Race (2pm)

    🇬🇧 British Grand Prix
    *Inaugural sprint race replaces classic qualifying.

    Venue: Silverstone Circuit, Northamptonshire
    Friday, July 16: Practice 1 (11.30am), Practice 2 (3pm)
    Saturday, July 17: Practice 3 (12pm), SPRINT RACE (3pm)*
    Sunday, July 18: Race (3pm)

    🇭🇺 Hungarian Grand Prix

    Venue: Hungaroring, Budapest
    Friday, July 30: Practice 1 (10.30am), Practice 2 (2pm)
    Saturday, July 31: Practice 3 (11am), Qualifying (2pm)
    Sunday, August 1: Race (2pm)

    🇧🇪 Belgian Grand Prix

    Venue: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
    Friday, August 27: Practice 1 (10.30am), Practice 2 (2pm)
    Saturday, August 28: Practice 3 (11am), Qualifying (2pm)
    Sunday, August 29: Race (2pm)

    🇳🇱 Dutch Grand Prix

    Venue: Zandvoort
    Friday, September 3: Practice 1 (10.30am), Practice 2 (2pm)
    Saturday, September 4: Practice 3 (11am), Qualifying (2pm)
    Sunday, September 5: Race (2pm)

    🇮🇹 Italian Grand Prix 2

    Venue: Autodromo Nazionale Monza
    Friday, September 10: Practice 1 (10.30am), Practice 2 (2pm)
    Saturday, September 11: Practice 3 (11am), SPRINT RACE (2PM)
    Sunday, September 12: Race (2pm)

    🇷🇺 Russian Grand Prix

    Venue: Sochi Autodrom
    Friday, September 24: Practice 1 (9.30am), Practice 2 (1pm)
    Saturday, September 25: Practice 3 (10am), Qualifying (1pm)
    Sunday, September 26: Race (1pm)

    🇸🇬 Singapore Grand Prix – CANCELLED

    🇯🇵 Japanese Grand Prix

    Venue: Suzuka International Racing Course, Ino, Sazuka City
    Friday, October 8: Practice 1 (3.30am), Practice 2 (7am)
    Saturday, October 9: Practice 3 (4am), Qualifying (7am)
    Sunday, October 10: Race (6am)

    🇺🇸 United States Grand Prix

    Venue: Circuit of The Americas, Austin, Texas
    Friday, October 22: Practice 1 (5.30pm), Practice 2 (9pm)
    Saturday, October 23: Practice 3 (7pm), Qualifying (10pm)
    Sunday, October 24: Race (8pm)

    🇲🇽 Mexico City Grand Prix

    Venue: Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City
    Friday, October 29: Practice 1 (5.30pm), Practice 2 (9pm)
    Saturday, October 30: Practice 3 (5pm), Qualifying (8pm)
    Sunday, October 31: Race (7pm)

    🇧🇷 Brazil Grand Prix

    Venue: Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Interlagos
    Friday, November 5: Practice 1 (2.30pm), Practice 2 (6pm)
    Saturday, November 6: Practice 3 (3pm), SPRINT RACE (6PM)
    Sunday, November 7: Race (5pm)

    🇦🇺 Australian Grand Prix

    Venue: Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit
    Friday, November 19: Practice 1 (1.30am), Practice 2 (5am)
    Saturday, November 20: Practice 3 (3am), Qualifying (6am)
    Sunday, November 21: Race (6am)

    🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix

    Venue: Jeddah Street Circuit
    Friday, December 3: Practice 1 (12.30pm), Practice 2 (4pm)
    Saturday, December 4: Practice 3 (1pm), Qualifying (4pm)
    Sunday, December 5: Race (4pm)

    🇦🇪 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

    Venue: Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island
    Friday, December 10: Practice 1 (9.30am), Practice 2 (1pm)
    Saturday, December 11: Practice 3 (10am), Qualifying (1pm)
    Sunday, December 12: Race (1pm) More

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    F1 legend Jenson Button says Pirelli tyre blowouts must be ‘voodoo magic’ after company claimed they AREN’T at fault

    JENSON BUTTON has remarked that ‘voodoo magic’ must have been behind Pirelli’s mystery tyre blowouts.Max Verstappen was coasting to Azerbaijan Grand Prix victory when his tyre failed at over 200mph, sending him into the wall while Lance Stroll suffered a similar catastrophic failure in his Aston Martin.
    Max Verstappen’s title bid was hit by a mystery tyre blowout in BakuCredit: Splash
    Tyre manufacturer Pirelli has insisted their rubber was not to blame for the baffling blowout, leading to ex-Formula One racer Button to question how the dangerous crashes occurred.
    He tweeted: “So what was the reason for the failures then?!
    “Aston and Red Bull stuck to the limits given, no cuts in tyre from debris and no defects or failure from Pirelli?
    “Voodoo magic then I guess.”
    Both drivers escaped unhurt but the episode prompted an investigation by Pirelli at their Milan HQ where somewhat worryingly they found no evidence of what caused the tyres to explode.
    A statement said: “Pirelli in conjunction with the FIA, has completed the analysis of the left-rear tyres involved in the incidents that affected Lance Stroll and Max Verstappen during the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
    “This analysis also took in the tyres used by other cars in the race, which had the same or a higher number of laps on them compared to the ones that were damaged.
    “The process established that there was no production or quality defect on any of the tyres; nor was there any sign of fatigue or delamination.

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    🏁 F1 2021 calendar: practice times, dates and racetrack info
    “The causes of the two left-rear tyre failures on the Aston Martin and Red Bull cars have been clearly identified.
    “In each case, this was down to a circumferential break on the inner sidewall, which can be related to the running conditions of the tyre, in spite of the prescribed starting parameters (minimum pressure and maximum blanket temperature) having been followed.”
    The news comes ahead of this weekend’s French GP where Pirelli tyres will come under the spotlight and the Italian manufacturer say they will increase the way they monitor the tyres’ condition.
    The statement added: “As a result of this analysis, Pirelli have submitted their report to the FIA and the Teams.
    “The FIA and Pirelli have agreed a new set of the protocols, including an upgraded technical directive already distributed, for monitoring operating conditions during a race weekend and they will consider any other appropriate actions.”
    Meanwhile, Red Bull say they did nothing wrong in the Azerbaijan GP and adhered to Pirelli’s guidelines.
    So what was the reason for the failures then?! Aston and Redbull stuck to the limits given, no cuts in tyre from debris and no defects or failure from Pirelli? Voodoo magic then I guess— Jenson Button (@JensonButton) June 15, 2021

    A team statement said: “We have worked closely with Pirelli and the FIA during their investigation into Max’s tyre failure on lap 47 of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and can confirm that no car fault was found.
    “We adhered to Pirelli’s tyre parameters at all times and will continue to follow their guidance.
    “We are grateful that following the weekend’s high speed impacts no drivers were injured.”
    Brave Lewis Hamilton leaps out of plane by himself in daring sky-dive as F1 star shows off incredible skills off track More

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    Valtteri Bottas MUST win French GP this weekend to have ANY chance of avoiding Mercedes axe at end of season

    VALTTERI BOTTAS must win the French Grand Prix this weekend to have any chance of staying with Mercedes next season – and even that might not be enough to stop him getting the axe.Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is expected to start finalising his driver pairing for 2021 with SunSport understanding that the team see Lewis Hamilton and George Russell as the future.
    It’s do or die team for BottasCredit: Alamy
    Bottas has failed to score points in the past two races and currently sits down in sixth place in the drivers’ championship and somewhat crucially, has yet to start talks over a new deal.
    Wolff has made it clear that they will not drag negotiations out like they did to sign Hamilton for this season – and a quick decision is imminent, with F1 insiders believing that Bottas’s deal will be set to expire on December 31st.
    Bottas is hoping that whatever news he receives from Wolff, that he can stay in Formula One.
    Ahead of the Azerbaijan GP, the 31-year-old said he still has the desire to race at the top level.
    He said: “I’m quite open-minded like in life in general, you need to always take opportunities and you just never know what’s around the corner.
    “And that’s, also having clear goals, what you’re pushing for, it has taken me this far, and yes [I] always want to follow my heart and follow my passion.
    “And I am still enjoying Formula One, of course, very much and racing at the front, and I really love it and I still enjoy it as much as I did, for example, in my first year with Mercedes, no doubt.
    Mercedes chiefs see George Russell as the futureCredit: Splash

    🏁 F1 2021 calendar: practice times, dates and racetrack info
    “If I look at the big picture, for sure I still have a good few years in me. I feel like year on year I keep improving on certain areas and keep getting better.
    “I’m quite far from the oldest drivers on the grid so, in theory, I still have time, but you just don’t know what the future holds. I take it weekend by weekend and see what comes.”
    However,  his performances this season, plus a lack of suitable options, could mean Bottas’s best chance of staying in F1 would be to return to Williams.
    Ironically, he could be Russell’s replacement with the Brit moving in the opposite direction.
    Lewis Hamilton says winning a record-breaking eighth world championship will not determine whether he quits Formula One at the end of the year More

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    Red Bull allowed to ‘slip in’ by Mercedes sacrificing this year’s F1 title bid for 2022 development, claims Damon Hill

    MERCEDES are inadvertently gifting Red Bull a shot at glory by focusing on the 2022 Formula One season, according to Damon Hill.Next year will see a raft of regulation changes drastically altering the make-up of F1 cars.
    Max Verstappen could be benefiting from Mercedes’ long-term strategyCredit: Getty
    Teams are facing a dilemma of whether to pour resources into the 2022 shake-up at the hope of long-term success, or attempt to sneak in a successful 2021 campaign while others take their eye off the ball.
    Former world champion Hill, 60, has stated his belief that the two title contenders are undertaking differing strategies.
    He told F1 Nation Podcast: “It’s incredible looking at the constructors’ championship.
    “There is this other team leading the constructors’ championship, some Red Bull team.
    “It is such a long time since we have seen that. It does make you have a double-take.
    “We’ve talked about how I was worried that Mercedes have moved their resources on a little bit too soon. I wonder that’s why they were struggling a bit – that they were focusing on the new regulations.
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    🏁 F1 2021 calendar: practice times, dates and racetrack info
    “And I was perusing an old copy of Motorsport magazine, and I found this quote from [Mercedes chief] James Allison.
    “He said, ‘The changes are so large, the car is so different, that we are going to have to spend a large part of our technical resources during the 2021 season, in order to make sure we are ready’.
    “And that was before the season started.”
    Max Verstappen leads the drivers’ standings by four points ahead of the weekend’s French Grand Prix.
    Lewis Hamilton has dominated in recent years, as have Mercedes who find themselves second in the constructors’ championship in pursuit of an eighth-consecutive crown.
    The Mercs may benefit from looking long-term but Hill reminded listeners that Red Bull are also well set for the years to come.

    I think Red Bull would like to slip in there. While the cats are away, the mice can play.Damon Hill

    He added: “I am not sure, that’s my point.
    “I think Red Bull would like to slip in there. While the cats are away, the mice can play.
    “I think they will assume that, if they continue to develop this car, maybe they can overhaul Mercedes this season.
    “Honda have put everything in, don’t forget. What they’ve got at the end of this year lasts them for the next five years.”
    Max Verstappen drives Red Bull F1 car around Holland to celebrate what would have been first Dutch race in 35 years More

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    Lewis Hamilton begs fans to ‘stay loyal’ to F1 amid fears they are being priced out of subscription TV channels

    LEWIS HAMILTON has called on Formula One to keep fans of the sport’s ‘skyrocketing’ social media – by not pricing them out of watching races on TV.Sky Sports bought the UK rights to show F1 via its subscription service in 2011 and only next month’s British Grand Prix is live on free-to-air TV.
    Lewis Hamilton has called for fans to ‘stay loyal’ to Formula OneCredit: Getty
    And while Sky has won awards for its coverage of the race weekend, some fans are unable to afford its dedicated F1 channel.
    Australia, France, Germany and Italy are just some of the others countries which split the season between pay TV and a handful of free-to-air races.
    Hamilton, 36, recognises the sport is far from unique in this approach and hopes fans ‘stay loyal’ amid the rise of followers online.
    He is quoted by Motorsport-Total as saying: “I think it’s all part of the business.
    “I grew up watching the races live on free TV, which attracted a lot of fans.
    “I remember that in Spain there used to be four to six million people tuning in every afternoon at 2pm. That was pretty impressive.
    “There seems to be a tendency to have to pay for what you want on TV. You have to pay for Netflix, you have to pay for everything you want to see.
    “So there’s been a transition. The world has changed.

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    🏁 F1 2021 calendar: practice times, dates and racetrack info

    “I just hope people keep staying loyal to the sport and following it on social media because the numbers on social media are skyrocketing.”
    F1 launched its own over-the-top video platform in 2018 as race bosses looked to enhance its revenue streams.
    On Sunday, Hamilton and Mercedes will attempt to retake the lead in the world championship when facing Max Verstappen in France.
    Lewis Hamilton says winning a record-breaking eighth world championship will not determine whether he quits Formula One at the end of the year More

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    British Grand Prix bosses confident Silverstone can host 400,000 fans for this year’s race despite lockdown lift delay

    F1 chiefs are confident the British Grand Prix will go ahead as planned with 400,000 fans – despite the delay of Freedom Day.There were concerns that the race, which is scheduled for July 18th, would be forced to go behind closed doors for a second year following Boris Johnson’s announcement that covid restrictions would remain in place.
    British Grand Prix bosses are confident of hosting 400,000 fans for this year’s raceCredit: PA
    However, both F1 and Silverstone bosses have been working with the government to get the race put on to the list of exemptions.
    It would mean that Saturday’s new sprint race and Sunday’s grand prix could both be 140,000 sell-outs, with a further 120,000 fans across Thursday and Friday.
    Race bosses have put together a proposal that shows that Silverstone’s 70,000 seats are spread over a distance of 3.5miles.
    They also point out that there would be less mingling between fans, as there are no public transport options, so people would be travelling in their own cars.
    Lewis Hamilton won the British GP last year in front of empty grandstands in dramatic fashion, crossing the finishing line with just three wheels on his Mercedes after a last-lap puncture.
    Silverstone is set to stage a new Formula One sprint race to decide the British Grand Prix starting grid.
    The famous Northamptonshire circuit will be one of three venues to trial the new 30-minute concept.
    The dramatic shake-up of the F1 weekend is set to see qualifying take place on Friday where drivers will fight for spots on the starting grid for Saturday’s sprint.
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    🏁 F1 2021 calendar: practice times, dates and racetrack info

    The sprint will then determine where cars line up on the track for Sunday’s showpiece race.
    But Hamilton and Co will not be spraying the champagne after triumphing thanks to their speed off the mark – podium celebrations are reserved for the main event.
    Silverstone chiefs giving away thousands of free F1 tickets to key workers this summer as thank you for risking lives More