The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is continuing to have a huge impact on the world of sport, with the beginning of the 2020 Formula 1 season now suspended until May at the earliest.
The Bahrain and Vietnam Grands Prix are the latest to be postponed, shortly after the season’s inaugural race in Melbourne was called off just days before it was due to take place, on Sunday 15th March.
Prior the Australian Grand Prix’s cancellation, McLaren announced they were pulling out of the race after a member of the team tested positive for the virus.
The two new postponements mean that the first four races of the season have all been called off – with April’s Chinese Grand Prix the first to be shelved back in February.
A new calendar for the 2020 season has not yet been confirmed, but the soonest it could start is now at the Dutch Grand Prix on 3rd May – although F1 conceded it was far from certain the race would be able to go ahead as planned.
A more likely start date, according to F1, is the end of May – which could point to further cancellations for the Dutch and Spanish Grands Prix, and possibly the season highlight Monaco race as well.
A statement given by F1 read: “Due to the continued global spread of Covid-19 and after ongoing discussions with the FIA, and race organisers a decision has been taken by all parties to postpone the Bahrain Grand Prix and the Vietnam Grand Prix due to take place on March 20-22 and April 3-5 respectively.”
Meanwhile Jean Todt, president of the FIA, commented, “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.”
Sport across the world has been badly hit by the virus, with the Premier League suspended earlier today.