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Lewis Hamilton worried about capacity crowd for British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton worried about capacity crowd for British Grand Prix
© Reuters
Circuit organisers have been given the green light to sell out for the entire July 16-18 weekend.

Lewis Hamilton is worried for the safety of the British public following what he called a "premature" decision to allow 140,000 fans to watch next month's grand prix at Silverstone.

Circuit organisers have been given the green light to sell out for the entire July 16-18 weekend, paving the way for the biggest UK crowd since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But seven-time world champion Hamilton, who has won the British Grand Prix more times than any driver in Formula One's history, questioned the logic behind Thursday's announcement with cases on the rise.

"I cannot tell you how excited I will be to see the British crowd because it is the best crowd of the whole year," said the Mercedes driver.

"But of course I watch the news, I hear the cases going up massively in the UK since we have loosened up a bit, and on that side I worry about people.

"I have read that the vaccination programme is working and fewer people are in hospital, but it feels a bit premature to me.

"I like to err on the side of caution and slowly build up – rather than go full pelt and using our British fans as a test pen."

140,000 fans are set to watch Lewis Hamilton at the British Grand Prix
140,000 fans are set to watch Lewis Hamilton at the British Grand Prix (David Davies/PA)

Ticket holders for the British GP will have to provide proof of a negative lateral flow test – taken within 48 hours of arriving at the Northamptonshire circuit – or be fully vaccinated, with the second dose 14 days previously.

Asked if that requirement altered his outlook, Hamilton, who missed last December's Sakhir GP with Covid-19, replied: "No. It is not my choice. There have been lots of confusing things coming from the Government during this period.

"People will go to Silverstone and I hope we learn something from it, and everyone stays safe and keep their masks on.

"That is what I would encourage everyone to do, to continue to wash their hands and wear their masks in those big crowds."

Hamilton departed the press conference room, previewing this weekend's Styrian Grand Prix at Austria's Red Bull Ring, saying: "I am going to be in trouble."

Prior to Hamilton's comments Silverstone were celebrating an announcement which comes after months of tense discussions with the Government.

Managing director Stuart Pringle is understood to have stressed to Government officials that the circuit – which staged the first ever Formula One world championship event in 1950 – would go bust if fans were not permitted.

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.

Hamilton has won the British Grand Prix on seven occasions (BEN STANSALL/PA)
Hamilton has won the British Grand Prix on seven occasions (BEN STANSALL/PA)

The grand prix also takes place just one day before the mooted end of coronavirus restrictions in England on July 19.

F1's inaugural sprint race will also be held at Silverstone on the Saturday of the GP weekend.

It was confirmed 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 Open.

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Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events


GOLF
· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

CYCLING - BMX
· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

SWIMMING
· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

TENNIS
· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

SAILING
· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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