AGENCIES, London: In wake of coronavirus scare, the organisers of Formula One have cancelled the season’s opening race in Australia. Vietnam was due to host its debut F1 Grand Prix on a street circuit in Hanoi on April 5 and the Chinese GP, initially scheduled for April, was last month postponed indefinitely.
In the Middle East, Bahrain’s government has already banned fans from attending next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix which now stands cancelled.
“In view of the continued global spread of COVID-19 and after ongoing discussions with the FIA, the Bahrain International Circuit, the Bahrain Motor Federation, the Hanoi People’s Committee the Vietnamese Motorsports Association, and the Vietnam Grand Prix Corporation, a decision has been taken by all parties to postpone both races,” said Formula One Management in a statement issued on Friday. “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 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.
“The global situation regarding COVID-19 is fluid and very difficult to predict,” said Formula 1 Chairman and CEO, Chase Carey.
“Protecting people first,” added FIA President, Jean Todt. “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.