Formula 1 has confirmed the postponement of both the Bahrain and Vietnam Grand Prix as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus, with the season set to commence at the end of May.
The news of the postponement of the second and third scheduled rounds of the 2020 campaign – a landmark 70th season for Formula 1 – follows the news that this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix will not go ahead, with all Formula 1 activity at Albert Park cancelled earlier today.
“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,” read a joint statement issued by the Formula 1 and the FIA.
“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 cancellation of the Bahrain and Vietnam Grand Prix means that four races of the present season have been either cancelled or delayed, with the Chinese Grand Prix – previously scheduled for April 17-19 – postponed in February.
“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,” said Formula 1 Chairman and CEO Chase Carey.
“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 added: “Protecting people first. 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.
“We continue to rely on the input and advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and governments and will work with them throughout this unpredictable period to safeguard the fans, competitors and all of the motor sport community.”