Formula One has announced that this season’s Chinese Grand Prix has been postponed due to the on-going coronavirus outbreak.
This announcement comes after rumours that the race was set to be cancelled, after the Federation International de l’Automobile (FIA) confirmed almost a fortnight ago that they were ‘closely monitoring’ the coronavirus crisis in China.
The Chinese GP was set to be held across the weekend of 17-19 April but the Chinese GP Promoter, Juss Sports Group requested that the race be postponed until further notice, following discussions with the FIA, Motorcycle Sports of People’s Republic of China (CAMF) and Shanghai Administration of Sports.
FIA released a statement, saying; “The FIA, together with the Formula 1, 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 World Health Organisation 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, which remains of primary concern.”
The FIA have also confirmed that discussions are underway with teams, Juss Sports Group, CAMF and local authorities ‘to study the viability of potential alternative dates for the Grand Prix later in the year should the situation improve.’
No F1 race has been cancelled since the 2011 season opening Bahrain Grand Prix, which came amidst political tensions at the time in Bahrain.
Where could the Chinese GP be rescheduled to later in season?
Given that the race is currently postponed rather than officially cancelled, there will be discussions about where best to reschedule the race to given the chaos of this season’s race calendar of 22 races.
One option could be potentially hold the race in mid December, ideally on weekend of 11-13 December as the season finale.
There however are concerns about that date in that teams and F1 media will be keen to prepare for their Xmas break.Embed from Getty Images
That option is also likely to raise concern for promoters of the Abu Dhabi GP who pay extra hosting fees in order to host the final race of the season.
Unless an agreement can be reached with Yas Marina in terms of financial compensation for China to instead host the final race, it is therefore unlikely that we could see the Chinese GP held in December.
There however is realistically one other alternative date of 7-9 August but it comes with logistical issues in that teams are meant to commence their annual two-week summer shutdown that weekend.
The fortnightly shutdown is designed to give teams time off away from the factory to spend with families, and holding a race across in China that weekend would therefore defeat the objective of that break unless teams agree to a shorter shutdown instead.
It’s therefore looks likely that the 2020 Chinese GP simply won’t go ahead given the logistical issues affecting the ability to find a viable alternative date.