Formula One has announced that Bahrain and Vietnam Grands Prix will be postponed due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
The decision to suspend the next two races comes after yesterday’s farcical cancellation of this weekend’s season opening Australian Grand Prix, following the news that a member of McLaren staff had tested positive for Coronavirus.
This means that F1 won’t be heading to Bahrain next weekend as scheduled nor Vietnam on weekend of 3-5 April.
Releasing a stament, F1 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 meanwhile described the postponements as ‘the only possible decision given all of the current information available to us.” after discussions with Bahrain Motor Federation, Vietnamese Motorsports Association, and the local promoters of both races.
Todt also spoke of the FIA’s continued reliance ‘ on the input and advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and governments’ as the sport continues to deal with any future impact of Coronavirus on upcoming races across all series in an attempt ‘to safeguard the fans, competitors and all of the motor sport community.’
F1’s return to Zandvoort for the Dutch GP on weekend of 1-3 May is therefore now in doubt alongside the following weekend’s Spanish GP and possibly the Monaco GP which is set to be held across 21-24 May.
It is therefore widely expected that the season could commence in Baku on 5-7 June at the Azerbaijan GP, which would be the latest ever start to a new F1 season if the three races scheduled for May are postponed until later in season or cancelled.