Formula 1 has called off this year’s Chinese Grand Prix due to ongoing concerns about the recent outbreak of coronavirus in the country. 

It follows a meeting of the Strategy Group last week, in which F1 teams and championship officials met to discuss the escalating outbreak of the virus, which has been classified as a world health emergency by the World Health Organisation.

In an official announcement on Wednesday, the FIA said: "In view of the continued spread of novel coronavirus and after ongoing discussions with the Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports of People's Republic of China (CAMF) and Shanghai Administration of Sports, the Chinese Grand Prix Promoter, Juss Sports Group, has officially requested that the 2020 FIA Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix be postponed.

"The FIA, together with the Formula 1, have have jointly decided to accept this official request from the promoter and postpone the 2020 FIA Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix, originally scheduled for 19 April," the statement continued. 

"As a result of continued health concerns and with the World Health Organisation declaring the coronavirus as a global health emergency, the FIA and Formula 1 have taken these measures in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains of primary concern.

"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.

"The Chinese Grand Prix has long been an important part of the F1 calendar with many passionate fans. The FIA F1 community looks forward to racing in China as soon as possible and wishes everyone in the country the best during this difficult time."

The Shanghai race had been scheduled to be the fourth round on the 2020 calendar on April 19 but its cancellation means there will now be a four-week gap between the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix in Hanoi on April 5 and the returning Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort on May 3. 

F1 had been set for its longest-ever season in 2020, with 22 races originally due to take place across the year, though it faces a tricky task if that number is to remain in place. 

Any hopes of rescheduling the Chinese Grand Prix for a later date after the situation regarding coronavirus has improved would not be without complications. 

F1 would struggle to find a new date which would avoid facing a triple header, which teams are understood to be opposed to as a result of the logistical headache that comes with hosting three grand prix weekends in a row, as highlighted when such a scenario first occurred during the 2018 season. 

Talk of the Chinese Grand Prix potentially being reinstated on the calendar in a swap with another round - possibly Russia - was swiftly ruled out by both the promoters of the Sochi race and F1’s head of motorsport Ross Brawn. 

Another mooted solution would be for F1 to try and move the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix back in order to slot China into a November date.

Even on Monday, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff appeared confident the race would go ahead and said his preparations to travel were continuing with the Austrian due to collect his Chinese visa. 

There have been more than 44,000 cases of coronavirus globally, mostly in China, with the total number of deaths in the country surpassing 1100. The amount of confirmed cases in the UK has now doubled to eight. 

Coronavirus has already led to the cancellation or postponement of a number of sporting events in China, including the Formula E race in Sanya, which was due to be held in March. 

The Chinese Grand Prix is the first race to be cancelled since the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix, which was abandoned due to civil unrest amid the Arab Spring uprising. 

 

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