After the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix, the FIA and Formula 1 announced that Bahrain and Vietnam races will both be postponed.
The 2020 Formula 1 season was scheduled to start today in Australia with the first free practice session, but once a team member of McLaren was diagnosed with the coronavirus, the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled.
The global coronavirus pandemic is further impacting the season with today’s announcement. The season is now tentatively expected to start at the end of May in Europe, however this will be “regularly reviewed”.
Formula 1 management says they will try to find alternative dates for both of the postponed races.
The Formula 1 statement in full:
In view of the continued global spread of COVID-19 and after ongoing discussions with the FIA, the Bahrain International Circuit, the Bahrain Motor Federarion and the Hanoi People’s Committee, the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Automobile Association of Vietnam and the promoter, Vietnam Grand Prix Corporation a decision has been taken by all parties to postpone both races due to take place on the 20th – 22nd March and April 3rd – 5th April respectively.
Following the announcement of the Australian Grand Prix’s cancellation this week and the ongoing and fluid nature of the COVID-19 situation globally, Formula 1, the FIA and the promoters have taken these decisions in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains our primary concern.
Formula 1 and the FIA continue to work closely with the race promoters in Bahrain and Vietnam and the local health authorities to monitor the situation and take the appropriate amount of time to study the viability of potential alternative dates for each Grand Prix later in the year should the situation improve. As a result, Formula 1 and the FIA expect to begin the Championship in Europe at the end of May but given the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Europe in recent days, this will be regularly reviewed.
Formula 1 Chairman and CEO, Chase Carey, said:
“The global situation regarding COVID-19 is fluid and very difficult to predict and its right we take time to assess the situation and make the right decisions. We are taking this decision with the FIA and our promoters to ensure the safety of everyone involved in Formula 1 and our fans. The Bahrain Grand Prix is an exciting race in our schedule, and we look forward to being back there as soon as we can. We are also looking forward to Vietnam’s inaugural race and bringing the spectacle of F1 to one of the most exciting cities in the world.”
FIA President, Jean Todt, said:
“Protecting people first. Together with Formula 1, the Bahrain Motor Federation, the Vietnamese Motorsports Association, and the local promoters, postponing both the Bahrain and Vietnam Grands Prix, as with the Australian Grand Prix, was the only possible decision given all of the information currently available to us. We continue to rely on the input and advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and governments and will work with them throughout this unpredictable period to safeguard the fans, competitors and all of the motor sport community.”
Source: Formula 1
UPDATE 1: In an interview with Sky Sports F1, Ross Brawn talked about the plans to salvage the season.
“Maybe we take a hiatus, we take a pause – and then we use that opportunity to say right, for this time at the beginning of the year we won’t have any races, we’ll look at relocating those races later in the year,” said Brawn.
“I think by freeing up the August break, we give ourselves several weekends where we can have a race. And I think we can build a pretty decent calendar for the rest of the year.
“It will look different, but it will still preserve a good number of races, and they’re exciting races. So the season’s going to start later, but I think it will be just as entertaining.
“I’m pretty optimistic that we can have a good 17-18 race championship or more. I think we can squeeze them in. But it depends on when the season will start.”
“One thing we have been talking about is two-day weekends, and therefore if we have a triple header with two-day weekends, that could be an option.
“I think what we need from the teams this year is flexibility, I think they’ve got to give some scope to do these things. Because we are in very unusual circumstances, and we’ve got to make sure we’ve got a season that gives a good economic opportunity for the teams.
“For sure we’re going to have a quiet start. I’m sure the teams will be flexible to allow us to fit those things in.”
We will keep you updated on this developing story.