Hamilton says full house decision at Silverstone is 'premature'

Lewis Hamilton is worried for the safety of the British public following what he called a "premature" decision to allow 120,000 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."

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.

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.