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The 2020 F1 season won't start until May
Following Aus GP cancellation, FIA postpones Bahrain and Vietnam, too
Following the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix due to coronavirus, the FIA and F1 have announced the postponement of both the Bahrain and Vietnam GPs.
The organising bodies now expect the first race of the season to be on 1 May in Europe, though even this “will be regularly reviewed”.
FIA president Jean Todt said: “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.”
F1 boss Chase Carey noted the current COVID-19 pandemic was ‘very difficult’ to predict, adding: “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.”
It follows the last-minute cancellation of the season-opener in Melbourne, after a member of the McLaren F1 team tested positive for coronavirus.
“The FIA and Formula 1, with the full support of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) have therefore taken the decision that all Formula 1 activity for the Australian Grand Prix is cancelled,” the FIA said earlier today.
The statement added that while it was “disappointing news for the thousands of fans due to attend the race”, ticket holders will receive a full refund.
“All parties took into consideration the huge efforts of the AGPC, Motorsport Australia, staff and volunteers to stage the opening round of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship in Melbourne,” the FIA continued, “however they concluded that the safety of all members of the Formula 1 family and the wider community, as well as the fairness of the competition take priority.”
McLaren announced on Thursday morning that it had withdrawn from the race after a team member had tested positive for COVID-19, and a number of drivers had previously expressed concerns over the event, with Lewis Hamilton saying he was “very, very surprised” that the teams had even travelled to Melbourne. Indeed, an hour before the official FIA confirmation, Mercedes’s F1 team released a statement calling for the race to be cancelled, noting the “wellbeing of our team members and of the wider F1 community” took priority.
Ferrari “fully supported” the cancellation of the race, and said: “We feel very sorry for the fans who were due to come to Albert Park and support the Formula 1 race with all their usual enthusiasm, as well as all those who would have been watching from around the world.
Red Bull added: “We share the disappointment of Formula One fans, but the safety of the teams, fans, media and circuit staff remains of absolute priority. We now await further information from the FIA on the status of future races.”