British MotoGP fans got the news most were expecting when Silverstone announced it would not be staging this year’s race.
But days later the same track told the world it was able to run not one but two F1 races.
If they can run a brace of F1 races in July and August, then why not MotoGP month later? The official reason was’logistical restrictions’ and the shortened and rearranged calendar, difficulties which affect both series.
No-one should doubt that the last thing that Silverstone boss Stuart Pringle wanted was another MotoGP cancellation, the second since bad weather forced the race to be abandoned in 2018. And he has promised to transfer ticket bookings to 2021 or refund money in full.
But what has made the difference between F1 and MotoGP? It is logistics and a government ruling - now being relaxed for participants in elite sporting events - enforcing a 14 day quarantine on overseas arrivals and it is likely the same would have applied.
It is also that the F1 events will be run behind closed doors and it is possible the same will apply to MotoGP although scheduled for the end of August. And that means money.
Although US owned, F1 is largely a British-based business with most of the race teams headquartered within easy distance of the Northamptonshire circuit.
Not only does that simplify the two race idea, it gives the British Grand Prix a special place on the calendar and a British World Champion.
MotoGP, on the other hand, is headquartered in Spain which, together with Italy, also houses many of the teams. Promoters Dorna, faced with a truncated calendar, is pursuing a policy of ditching the races most distant from home territory. Hence agreement to quit with the owners of Philip Island, Motegi and now Silverstone.
The challenge for circuit owners, faced with the assumption that all sporting events can only take place behind closed doors and be seen only on television, is staging these great occasions while not bankrupting themselves.
Silverstone and its owners the British Racing Drivers Club are very conscious of this, having been too close to the edge for comfort in recent years. The return to profitability, despite being the only F1 and MotoGP circuit not receiving state aid, owes much to the tenacity of Pringle and the guidance of his chairman John Grant.
Negotiations with F1 owner Liberty and MotoGP owner Dorna have been going on for some time, the objective being to persuade them to contribute more than merely giving up their usual fee for bringing the show to town which, in the case of F1 is circa £20m and MotoGP £4m. F1, faced with pressure from their teams, improved their deal to Silverstone’s satisfaction.
Dorna, it seems, concluded that in the light of its extremely tight autumn schedule and their logistical challenges, the British MotoGP was not worth going the extras mile. So, no world championship motorcycle racing in the UK this year as the WorldSBK round at Donington has also been postponed.
Roll on 2021.