Formula 1 has officially called off its upcoming races in Bahrain and Vietnam in a direct response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

It follows the decision to abandon this weekend’s season opening Australian Grand Prix due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Melbourne paddock. 

F1 had already moved to postpone April’s Chinese Grand Prix, with Bahrain and Vietnam becoming the latest rounds to be affected by the ongoing global coronavirus crisis. 

The Bahrain International Circuit was due to run next weekend’s race behind closed doors on March 22, before F1 then headed to Vietnam for the country’s inaugural grand prix between April 3-5. Both events have now been postponed. 

Doubts over whether the races could be staged had been growing in recent weeks after both countries imposed travel bans and strict quarantine measures on travellers coming from the worst-affected areas such as Italy, South Korea and Iran. 

Cancellation of the Bahrain and Vietnam rounds became an even more likely prospect after 14 members of McLaren’s team personnel were placed into a two-week self-isolation period after one member tested positive for coronavirus in Melbourne on Thursday. The British squad subsequently pulled out of the weekend before it was later canned altogether. 

F1 championship officials are currently evaluating the possibility of starting the season at the Monaco Grand Prix in May at the very earliest. 

In such a scenario, it is understood that any postponed races between now and then - including the Dutch and Spanish Grands Prix - could be arranged for a later date, potentially running through the summer break.

Full statement from FOM: 

"In view of the continued global spread of COVID-19 and after ongoing discussions with the FIA, the Bahrain International Circuit, the Bahrain Motor Federation, the Hanoi People’s Committee the Vietnamese Motorsports Association, and the 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 in Bahrain and April 3rd – 5 th April in Vietnam.

"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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