THE ORGANISERS of the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix have decided to postpone the race until further notice, in light of the ongoing concerns over the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.
The FIA, motor sport’s international governing body, has accepted the request from the Juss Sport Group, which promotes the Chinese GP, not to hold the race on its originally scheduled date of April 19.
According to the FIA, the decision was made “in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains of primary concern”.
It also cited the classification of the Covid-19 outbreak as a “global health emergency” by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a reason to put the race on hold for the time being.
However, while the Chinese Grand Prix will no longer be held on its originally scheduled date, the FIA still hopes it can run the event later in the year. The body explained it will continue to “monitor the situation as it develops”, and stressed it would “take the appropriate amount of time to study the viability of potential alternative dates for the Grand Prix later in the year should the situation improve”.
Whether it will be logistically possible to reschedule the race remains to be seen, however, due to the sheer number of grands prix in the 2020 F1 season. Before the Covid-19 coronavirus disruption, it was originally planned to hold a record-breaking 23 races over 37 weeks, starting with the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 15, and concluding with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 27.
Because the Chinese Grand Prix was mean to be held in mid-April, the organisers now have to find a gap in the remaining 32 weeks of the championship into which to slot the event. Complicating matters even further are the race series’s sporting regulations, which mandate “all competitors must observe a shutdown period of fourteen consecutive days” during the season.
This shutdown period (which is unofficially referred to as a “summer break”) has traditionally been held in August, this year taking place between the Hungarian Grand Prix and the Belgian Grand Prix. Should this remain the case for 2020, that would mean it would be impossible to re-run the Chinese Grand Prix during two of the three weeks separating the races in Hungary (August 2) and Belgium (August 30).
In a statement, Formula One said: “The Chinese Grand Prix has always been a very important part of the F1 calendar and the fans are always incredible. We all look forward to racing in China as soon as possible and wish everyone in the country the best during this difficult time.”
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as of February 12 there have been 45,171 confirmed cases of Covid-19 coronavirus infections worldwide since the disease was discovered on December 31, 2019. Of those cases, an overwhelming number (44,730) are located in China, of which 306 originate from the Shanghai region.
The Department for Health (DfH) said there have been nine confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, as of February 12. While the DfH has said the risk of infection to individuals remains low, it has advised anyone who has visited the countries below within the last 14 days and is showing flu-like symptoms (such as a fever, a cough or difficulty breathing) should call the NHS on 111, remain at home and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu.
- Republic of Korea
- Hong Kong