F1 confirms the Chinese Grand Prix is off because of coronavirus outbreak
Race was set to take place in Shanghai on 19 April
The Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix on 19 April has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
After media outlets reported that the race in Shanghai was in doubt, F1 bosses confirmed the decision on Tuesday.
According to the latest reports the coronavirus has infected more than 43,000 people worldwide and killed 1,018 - exceeding the 774 lives lost to the Sars epidemic in 2002-03.
Race promoter, Juss Sports Group, officially requested the postponement after ongoing discussions with the Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports of People’s Republic of China (CAMF) and Shanghai Administration of Sports.
In a statement F1 said all parties will now work on finding possible alternative dates for the grand prix at the Shanghai International Circuit.
“Amid continued health concerns and with the World Health Organisation declaring the coronavirus as a global health emergency, Formula 1, together with governing body the FIA, jointly decided to accept the postponement request in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans,” the statement said.
“Formula 1 and the FIA will continue to work closely with the teams, race promoter, CAMF and the local authorities to monitor the situation as it develops, with all parties studying the viability of potential alternative dates for the Grand Prix later in the year should the situation improve.
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“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.”
The challenge now facing F1 is that with the grand prix calendar this season already at a record-high 22 races, there is little or no window for rescheduling the race.
The Times says that if the powers-that-be attempted to shoehorn the Chinese GP into the second half of the season, “it could result in races being held on three or even four consecutive weekends, something to which the teams would likely object”.
It’s not the first time that a grand prix has been cancelled; in 2011 the Bahrain event was abandoned after unrest in the country and it proved impossible to reschedule the race that season.
Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph adds that the first-ever Vietnam GP is also at risk and should both races be called off it would leave the F1 season in “chaos”.