Lewis Hamilton begs fans for ‘small sacrifice’ of wearing masks at British Grand Prix – Asia Despatch

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Lewis Hamilton has urged fans to wear face masks at the British Grand Prix in order to limit the spread of Covid when 350,000 people descend on Silverstone, this weekend.

The seven-time and current world champion is concerned the rate of infection could surge at the Northamptonshire circuit, as the UK’s biggest crowd since the pandemic began gathers for the race meeting from today.

Silverstone will open its doors to 140,000 people on Sunday, with a total of 350,000 in attendance during the three days.

The circuit is allowed to accommodate a capacity crowd ahead of Freedom Day, when social distancing rules will be lifted on Monday, because it is part of the third phase of the Government’s Events Research Programme, set up to test Covid Passports.

Fans must show they have had two vaccinations against Covid, a negative lateral flow test in the previous 48 hours or they have natural immunity from a previous infection. They can do this using the NHS covid app.

However, the race comes as the the country’s third wave of coronavirus infection continues to gather pace, driven by the Delta variant, which was first identified in India.

Fans are  arriving at Silverstone today for the three-day race meeting culminating the British Grand Prix on Sunday, when 140,000 people are expected to be in attendance

Fans are  arriving at Silverstone today for the three-day race meeting culminating the British Grand Prix on Sunday, when 140,000 people are expected to be in attendance

Britain is now on the brink of breaching the 50,000 daily cases mark, as infections close in on levels seen at the start of the year and hospitalisations are rising.

Hamilton has taken to Instagram to plead with fans to take precautions at Silverstone, warning them that even if they are double vaccinated they could still be at risk and he said face masks are a ‘small sacrifice’ to ‘stay healthy and keep those around you healthy’.

‘It was so nice to see everyone today,’ wrote Hamilton. ‘So refreshing to see people and the energy already is so uplifting. 

But he added: ‘Can I please ask you to wear your masks, be safe.  I know of people getting Covid and being ill even with double jabs. So please please stay safe this weekend. 

‘Wearing a mask is a small sacrifice to stay healthy and keep others around us healthy. With love.’    

Early arrivals at Silverstone sought out vantage points to watch the drivers practice today

Early arrivals at Silverstone sought out vantage points to watch the drivers practice today

Lewis Hamilton has asked fans to wear face masks at the British Grand Prix this weekend

Lewis Hamilton has asked fans to wear face masks at the British Grand Prix this weekend

He said on Instagram it is a 'small sacrifice' to 'stay healthy and keep those around you healthy'

He said on Instagram it is a ‘small sacrifice’ to ‘stay healthy and keep those around you healthy’

Nevertheless, organisers insist the event will be safe. In addition to the requirement of a Covid Passport, they point out the site is large and in the open air, unlike other sporting or arts venues.

Silverstone is a 550-acre site with grandstands that seat as many fans as a large Premier League stadium, but are spread out over three and a half miles.

In addition, the vast majority of fans attend the Northamptonshire circuit, which is wedged between the M1 and M40 motorways, by car, reducing the risk of spread on public transport.

With 19 entry gates over a five and half mile perimeter people can remain spread out during entry to the site and exit, which is not always the case in urban settings.

‘I have complete confidence in our ability to run this safely,’ Stuart Pringle, Silverstone’s managing director told The Guardian.

‘For all the challenges we have had with our finances over the last 18 months we are not the type of business that sticks its neck in the noose and rolls the dice, we would not do this unless we believed we could do it.

‘If we thought for some reason Public Health England and all the other bodies that have signed off on this in some way had got it wrong or we were not capable of delivering it in a way that complies with their requirements we would not do this.’

Hamilton’s warning to fans resonates with some experts, including England’s Chief Medical Officer, who yesterday admitted the country may have to face new restrictions within weeks.

Hamilton has called on race fans, like this one at Silverstone today, to wear masks at the track

Hamilton has called on race fans, like this one at Silverstone today, to wear masks at the track

Professor Whitty said Britain is ‘not out of the woods yet’ and could face another lockdown.

Speaking at a Science Museum event, he said: ‘I don’t think we should underestimate the fact that we could get into trouble again surprisingly fast. We are not by any means out of the woods yet on this,.

‘[But] we are in much better shape due to the vaccine programme, and drugs and a variety of other things.’

He called on Britons to ‘take things incredibly slowly’ after July 19, amid warnings from transport operators across the country that they will still ask people to wear face masks next week.

In terms of the competition, the British Grand Prix provides Hamilton with the best opportunity to make up ground in the title fight. 

He is currently trailing Max Verstappen by 32 points in the championship and has not won a race since Spain in May.

As a result, Red Bull have won all five grands prix since Barcelona – taking a 44-point lead over Mercedes in the championship.  

Hamilton will look to narrow that gap this weekend by getting off to a flying start in Saturday’s F1 Sprint – a short 17-lap race.

Should he finish well, he will in pole position on the grid for Sunday’s showpiece race.  

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