Chinese GP postponed due to coronavirus as F1 seeks new date

Wednesday 12th February 2020 15:15 GMT

The Shanghai F1 race was scheduled to be the fourth race of the season, on April 19, but the FIA and Formula 1 have confirmed they will now look for an alternative date "should the situation improve".

As of Wednesday, there had been more than 40,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, with the death-toll having passed 1,100.

"Disappointed, but we understand," F1 chairman Chase Carey told Sky Sports News. "I think we largely expected this to happen. Clearly what's been evolving over the last couple of weeks certainly led to this being a likely outcome.

"I'm disappointed for our fans, and the sport, but realistically I think the priority is health and safety. Our thoughts are with everyone in China and we hope they get on top of this as soon as possible."

Several other sporting events in China have also been cancelled or postponed due to the virus, including the World Athletics Indoor Championships and a Formula E race in Sanya - both of which were due to take place in March.

An FIA statement read: "The FIA and F1 continue to work closely with the teams, promoter, CAMF and local authorities to monitor the situation.

"All parties will take the appropriate amount of time to study the viability of potential alternative dates later in the year should the situation improve."

It is the first time since 2011 that a Formula 1 race has been postponed.

"The Chinese Grand Prix has long been an important part of the F1 calendar with many passionate fans," the statement continued.

"The FIA F1 community looks forward to racing in China as soon as possible and wishes everyone in the country the best during this difficult time."

Chase Carey to Sky: 'Not easy to reschedule'

It will not be easy to find space in a packed calendar that will still number 21 rounds even without Shanghai.

It would likely have to be the second half of the season, although it would then potentially create a triple-header of races and a logistical nightmare for teams.

"It's challenging at this point to try and figure out how to fit it into a tight schedule that's pretty packed.," F1 chief Chase Carey added to Sky Sports News' Craig Slater.

"Clearly we have a busy calendar so it's not easy to reschedule this late when we're only a month away from our first race."

There had been fears that other events - particularly Vietnam, scheduled to take place on April 5 - may also be affected amid the coronavirus outbreak, although Carey added that he was hopeful of no further disruptions.

"We've been in touch with all of our promoters, at this point everything is going forward," he said. "At this point in all those places, the number of affected individuals is still a handful.

"We have to see what it looks like moving forward. They've put protections in place and taken proper steps to get ahead of it. At this point, everything [else] is going ahead."

How the F1 calendar now stands

March 15 - Australian GP, Melbourne
March 22 - Bahrain GP, Sakhir
April 5 - Vietnam GP, Hanoi
May 3 - Dutch GP, Zandvoort
May 10 - Spanish GP, Barcelona
May 24 - Monaco GP, Monte Carlo
June 7 - Azerbaijan GP, Baku
June 14 - Canadian GP, Montreal
June 28 - French GP, Paul Ricard
July 5 - Austrian GP, Spielberg
July 19 - British GP, Silverstone
August 2 - Hungarian GP, Budapast
August 30 - Belgian GP, Spa-Francorchamps
September 6 - Italian GP, Monza
September 20 - Singapore GP, Marina Bay
September 27 - Russian GP, Sochi
October 11 - Japanese GP, Suzuka
October 25 - United States GP, Austin
November 1 - Mexico City GP, Mexico City
November 15 - Brazilian GP, Interlagos
November 29 - Abu Dhabi GP, Yas Marina

TBC - Chinese GP, Shanghai

FIA statement in full

"In view of the continued spread of novel coronavirus and after ongoing discussions with the CAMF and Shanghai Administration of Sports, the Chinese Grand Prix Promoter, Juss Sports Group, has officially requested that the 2020 FIA Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix be postponed.

"The FIA, together with the F1, have jointly decided to accept this official request from the promoter and postpone the 2020 FIA Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix, originally scheduled for 19 April.

"As a result of continued health concerns and with the WHO declaring the coronavirus as a global health emergency, the FIA and Formula 1 have taken these measures in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans.

"The FIA and F1 continue to work closely with the teams, promoter, CAMF and local authorities to monitor the situation. All parties will take the appropriate amount of time to study the viability of potential alternative dates later in the year should the situation improve.

"The Chinese Grand Prix has long been an important part of the F1 calendar with many passionate fans. The FIA F1 community looks forward to racing in China as soon as possible and wishes everyone in the country the best during this difficult time.

"The global situation regarding this virus will continue to be monitored by the FIA with regard to other motor sport events."

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