F1: 2020 season likely to begin in May after Bahrain and Vietnam GPs called off
After the cancellation of what was meant to be the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Formula 1 has now officially called off the upcoming races in Bahrain and Vietnam as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
File photo from the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix
The race weekend at Melbourne was about to get underway for Free Practice on Friday morning, despite the fact that McLaren had already pulled out of the race after a team member tested positive for the virus. However, at the last minute, the FIA issued a statement calling the race off.
With the Chinese Grand Prix already postponed, the FIA has now announced that both the Bahrain and Vietnam grands prix will be called off. Both rounds are expected to be rescheduled for later in the year.
The Bahrain Grand Prix was meant to be held behind closed doors on March 22, while the first-ever Vietnam GP was meant to be held on April 5. However, with the global health crisis seemingly spinning out of control, and travel bans being imposed on travellers, holding the races would have been irresponsible.
Right now, F1 officials are considering beginning the season at the Monaco Grand Prix in May, originally scheduled to be the seventh race of the season. Word is still awaited on when other events, like the Spanish GP and the inaugural Dutch GP, will be held.
A statement issued by the Formula 1 read: "Following the announcement of the Australian Grand Prix's cancellation this week and the ongoing and fluid nature of the COVID-19 situation globally, Formula 1, the FIA and the promoters have taken these decisions in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains our primary concern. Formula 1 and the FIA continue to work closely with the race promoters in Bahrain and Vietnam and the local authorities to monitor the situation and take the appropriate amount of time to study the viability of potential alternative dates for each Grand Prix later in the year should the situation improve. As a result, Formula 1 and the FIA expect to begin the Championship in Europe at the end of May but given the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Europe in recent days, this will be regularly reviewed."
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