THE Formula One Chinese Grand Prix has been postponed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, organizers said yesterday.
The race, in what is an important market for F1, was originally set to be held in Shanghai on April 19, but the governing body FIA and F1 said in a statement that they had jointly decided to postpone it.
“As a result of continued health concerns and with the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus a global health emergency, the FIA and Formula 1 have taken these measures,” the two bodies said. “The FIA and Formula 1 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.”
A host of international sporting events have been cancelled due to the coronavirus, including the all-electric Formula E motor racing series that abandoned plans for a race in Sanya, Hainan Province, next month.
Speaking to reporters last week, F1’s motorsport managing director Ross Brawn had said the sport would look to reschedule the Chinese race rather than cancel it altogether.
The sport’s Chief Executive Chase Carey said fitting the race back into an already packed calendar with few spare weekends would pose a challenge.
“At this point it’s tough to make too many specific plans when there are so many unknowns around it,” Carey said.
Carey also said the sport was keeping an eye on the spread of the virus outside China to other countries in the region such as Vietnam, which is set to host its first race on April 5.
“The reality of today, in most other countries, the number of people affected is a handful. But we don’t know what it will be in a week or two.”
The Chinese GP, which debuted in 2004, is an important event for F1, with the sport keen to tap into the opportunity presented by China’s vast population and growing middle class.