Coronavirus causes Formula One's Chinese Grand Prix to be postponed

Ferrari fans at the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit. Picture: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Ferrari fans at the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit. Picture: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
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Formula One has confirmed that the Chinese Grand Prix will be postponed following the outbreak of coronavirus.

The disease has claimed more than 1,000 lives in China, and it has been decided that the race, originally scheduled to take place in Shanghai on April 19, can no longer go ahead as planned.

The F1 race becomes the latest sporting event to be cancelled in China.

The sport's governing body, the FIA, said it had accepted a request from the promoter of the Chinese race to postpone the event.

An FIA statement read: "In view of the continued spread of novel coronavirus and after ongoing discussions with the Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports of People's Republic of China (CAMF) and Shanghai Administration of Sports, the Chinese Grand Prix Promoter, Juss Sports Group, has officially requested that the 2020 FIA Formula One Chinese Grand Prix be postponed.

"The FIA, together with Formula One, have 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 One 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."

F1's hierarchy are still hopeful they will be able to reschedule the race for later in the season.

But with a record-breaking 22 grands prix - including the round in Shanghai - already on the calendar, switching the race to another date will be difficult.

The statement continued: "The FIA and Formula One continue to work closely with the teams, race promoter, CAMF and the local authorities to monitor the situation as it develops.

"All parties will take the appropriate amount of time to study the viability of potential alternative dates for the Grand Prix later in the year should the situation improve."

Speaking earlier on Wednesday, F1 chief executive Chase Carey admitted it will be hard to find a new date for the event.

Following the sport's August summer break, nine races will take place in just 13 weeks.

Carey, who was speaking to Sky Sports, said: "Part of the challenge is that you don't really know the timeframe (of the virus).

"Clearly we have a busy calendar so it's not easy to reschedule this late when essentially we are a month out from our first race of the season.

"We will work with our Chinese partners to try and see, when we know more, what options might exist."

The inaugural Vietnamese Grand Prix is due to take place on April 5, a fortnight before the now postponed race in Shanghai.

Hanoi is located on the Chinese border and there is growing concern among the travelling F1 circus that the race might also have to be postponed.

But the sport's chiefs are determined that the third round of the season will go ahead as scheduled.

"The FIA is closely monitoring the evolving situation with relevant authorities and its Member Clubs, under the direction of FIA Medical Commission President, Professor Gerard Saillant," the statement from motor racing's governing body read.

"The FIA will evaluate the calendar of its forthcoming races and, if necessary, take any action required to help protect the global motor sport community and the wider public."