- First four F1 races of 2020 now non-starters
- F1 leaving door open to delaying season further
- Other series including NASCAR and WEC following suit
UPDATED - The F1 group has confirmed that the Monaco Grand Prix will be cancelled for the first time in 54 years.
In possibly the longest single sentence ever written, the Automobile Club d Monaco said "The current situation concerning the worldwide pandemic and its unknown path of evolution, the lack of understanding as to the impact on the FIA F1 World Championship 2020, the uncertainty with regards to the participation of the teams, the consequences with regards to the differing measures of confinement as taken by various governments worldwide, the multi-border restrictions for accessing the Principality of Monaco, the pressure on all implicated businesses, their dedicated staff who are unable to undertake the necessary installations, the availability of the indispensable workforce and volunteers (more than 1500) required for the success of the event means that the situation is no longer tenable.”
It also added that rescheduling the race was not possible.
Following the botched bail-out from the Australian Grand Prix yesterday, F1 has quickly moved to clarify that the Bahrain, Vietnam and China rounds of the championship are now formally postponed, along with the Spanish and Dutch Grands Prix.
“The global situation regarding COVID-19 is fluid and very difficult to predict and it's 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.”
F! season will not start until June
However, the sport has allowed itself some wiggle room, suggesting that the proposed May start date will constantly be reviewed.
“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,” said the president of the FIA, Jean Todt.
COVID-19 has already seen a lock-down of Italy, while the virus is expected to take hold in Europe in the coming months. Disruption to the world’s economy, transport systems and the inability of people to gather in large numbers will undoubtedly place the running of the European rounds of the F1 series under huge pressure.
This could mean that the 2020 F1 championship won’t actually start until at least the start of the European summer in June in Baku, Azerbaijan.
An F1 season needs to run over at least eight races to be considered a formal championship.
“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,” read a joint FIA/F1 statement released overnight.
NASCAR, IndyCar and more postpone events
Meanwhile, other racing series around the world have announced that their respective season starts will be delayed.
The IndyCar series – featuring prominent Antipodeans Will Power, Scott Dixon and potentially Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin – announced on the eve of its season-opening round in St Petersburg, Florida this weekend that it was postponing its first four rounds, while NASCAR has postponed its next two races of its season.
The World Endurance Championship, Formula E, the 12 Hours of Sebring, WTCR, World RX rallycross and MotoGP have all announced that postponements or cancellations to races and series, after the World Health Organisation declared the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic.
However, the Indy 500 has yet to be called off.
More coronavirus news
- Multiple crew members isolated ahead of Australian GP
- Coronavirus 'ghost flights' emitting more CO2 than all Lamborghinis
- Gallery of abandoned Geneva Motor Show
- World Time Attack cancelled over coronavirus fears
The only event that’s still going ahead at a world level this weekend is WRC’s Rally Mexico, though the next round in Argentina has been cancelled. Only five cases of the disease have been thus far confirmed in Mexico.
Updated: Supercars postpones rounds until June
Closer to home, the Supercars championship has declared that it is postponing the first half of its 2020 season, with just a single round in the books.
Tasmania, Auckland and Perth will have their respective rounds rescheduled until later in the year, mirroring other race series around the world.
Supercars CEO Sean Seamer said in a statement that the sport had examined the idea of running without crowds, but decided against it.
"Our sport is a visceral experience and rather than run without crowds, we have decided, along with our key broadcast and government partners, to delay any further racing until June," he said in a statement.
Shannons Nationals postpones Bathurst 6 Hour
"A new date will be announced [to replace round one at Sydney Motorsport Park in late March] in due course, with Motorsport Australia and ARDC to work closely together to find a suitable option for all categories scheduled to be part of the opening round of the season," read a statement.
"For the HiTec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour, the decision was made to restructure the event, the second round of the Shannons, which will now be part of this year’s new Bathurst International event in November, 2020."