Chinese Grand Prix In Shanghai Postponed Due To Coronavirus
The F1 Chinese GP has been "postponed because of the outbreak of the coronavirus," with the possibility of being "rescheduled for later in the season," according to Giles Richards of THE GUARDIAN. However, rescheduling is "unlikely" for the event originally slated to run in Shanghai on April 19. The coronavirus has "claimed more than a thousand lives in China, and Shanghai is just 500 miles from Wuhan, where the outbreak began." The health threat also has "raised doubts about the feasibility of the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, which is set to take place" on April 5. Officials acknowledged that the postponement had been at the "request of the race promoters." As things stand, if a promoter "requests to postpone the race for safety reasons its first intent would be to reschedule in order to ensure it does not lose its race fee." But with a 22-race season this year, a "new slot would be exceptionally difficult to work into the calendar." The Russian GP in September, scheduled between the Singapore and Japanese races, has "already ruled out exchanging dates with China." Finding another weekend that would work logistically for transporting teams and equipment would be "very difficult and almost certainly require a commitment to racing on three consecutive weekends" (THE GUARDIAN, 2/12).
SOME HOPE FOR RESCHEDULING: MOTORSPORT.com's Luke Smith notes one consideration is a "date change for the season finale in Abu Dhabi to allow China to rejoin the calendar at the end of November." F1 CEO & Exec Chair Chase Carey said that it would be "difficult to find a slot for China" in '20, but added that "not all solutions had been fully considered yet" (MOTORSPORT.com, 2/12). In London, Rebecca Clancy notes the Chinese GP "cannot be held during the summer break as that time off is mandated in the regulations." The "last time a race was cancelled" was the '11 Bahrain GP, which was "called off because of social unrest in the Gulf state." The initial intention then was to "hold the race later in the year but the teams objected and the race was cancelled" (LONDON TIMES, 2/12).