F1 have announced that they have suspended both the Bahrain and Vietnamese Grands Prix. This means that the season has now lost the first FOUR Grands prix of the season and the championship is now unlikely to get underway until the end of May.
When will F1 get underway this season?
At the moment it’s hard to tell for certain but the FIA say they are working towards getting started at “the end of May”. In May, we have three Grands Prix scheduled – the Dutch GP at Zandvoort on May 3, Spanish GP on May 10 and Monaco on May 24.
Now, with the FIA saying they’re aiming for the end of the month, that implies that the Dutch and Spanish Grands Prix will be suspended too. It also means we could have our season start at Monaco – what a place for the drivers to have their first race, the toughest track on the calendar.
What’s been said?
“In view of the continued global spread of COVID-19 and after ongoing discussions with the FIA, the Bahrain International Circuit, the Bahrain Motor Federarion and the Hanoi People’s Committee, the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Automobile Association of Vietnam and the promoter, Vietnam Grand Prix Corporation a decision has been taken by all parties to postpone both races due to take place on the 20th – 22nd March and April 3rd – 5th April respectively.
“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 health 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.”
F1 CEO Chase Carey:
“The global situation regarding COVID-19 is fluid and very difficult to predict and its right we take time to assess the situation and make the right decisions. We are taking this decision with the FIA and our promoters to ensure the safety of everyone involved in Formula 1 and our fans.
“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.”
FIA president Jean Todt:
“Protecting people first. 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.”
What now for the drivers?
Like everybody else, one would assume the F1 drivers and all other staff members will be headed home to their families to try and see out the COVID-19 pandemic. I highly doubt the McLaren employee who was found to have the virus yesterday will be the last person related to F1 to test positive.
Now, it’s all about just following the advice of the government and the health services. Stay at home if possible – as frustrating as it is for all of us F1 fans, the health and safety of the drivers, staff, fans, media and everybody in between is top priority.
Even if they have to totally sack off the 2020 season, we have to support their decisions. As I say, health and safety comes first. Plus, no season this year would give teams even longer to develop their cars for the rule changes in 2021, which has the potential to be a masterstroke.
I also heard someone mention a potential eSports F1 championship for the drivers to get involved in. While it’s not exactly the real deal – it’ll do for now.