Formula 1 Postpones Chinese Grand Prix Because of Coronavirus Outbreak

The outbreak of coronavirus that has caused havoc in China has now forced the postponement of the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix.

The race was scheduled to be the fourth stage of the 2020 season and set to be held in Shanghai on April 19.

On Wednesday, F1 management and the FIA—the governing body of world motorsports—issued a joint statement to confirm the race had been postponed because of the virus.

Both parties acknowledged the decision had been made following discussions with race organizers and promoters.

"As a result of continued health concerns and with the World Health Organization 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 traveling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains of primary concern," the statement read.

Over 1,000 people have been killed by the virus since the outbreak began in Wuhan, located in the central Hubei province, late last year.

Shanghai is approximately 500 miles east of Wuhan, but the virus has spread rapidly via air and sea travel.

On Monday, the Chinese National Health Commission announced it had received 42,638 reports of confirmed cases and 1,016 deaths in the mainland.

As this chart provided by Statista shows, the virus has since spread to a dozen other countries, including the U.S., Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and the U.K.

Coronavirus COVID-19 location February 12 Statista
Countries where COVID-19 has been confirmed. Statista

Last week, F1's sporting director Ross Brawn admitted the race could be postponed due to the outbreak, but insisted no stone would be left unturned to reschedule the event at a later date.

"We will leave open the opportunity to see if the race can run later in the year," he said.

The joint statement released on Wednesday reiterated the point, suggesting FIA and F1 remained eager for the race to be held, should the situation improve.

"The FIA and Formula 1 continue to work closely with the teams, race promoter, CAMF [China's motorsports federation] and the local authorities to monitor the situation as it develops," it read.

"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 task of fitting in the race later in the year, however, could prove extremely tricky given the F1 calendar will already accommodate 21 further races this year.

The 22 events scheduled for the 2020 season are the most in a single year in the history of the sport.

With the exception of the Canadian Grand Prix on the weekend of June 12-14, the F1 season will take place in Europe from the beginning of May until September 18, when it moves to Singapore.

Transporting teams and equipment all the way to China for a weekend would be a logistical nightmare.

Meanwhile, the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix could also be under threat. The race is scheduled to take place on April 5 in Hanoi, which is approximately 100 miles away from the Chinese border.

So far, 15 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the country.

The Chinese Grand Prix is the latest sporting event to fall victim to the outbreak. Local events in Shanghai were canceled this week, while the World Indoor Athletics Championships, scheduled for next month in Nanjing—approximately 330 miles from Wuhan—have also been called off.

The women's Olympic soccer qualifying matches for Australia, Taiwan, Thailand and China have also been canceled.

China, Formula One
Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W10, Valtteri Bottas driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W10, Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF90 and Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Scuderia Ferrari SF90 battle for position off the line at the start during the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 14, 2019 in Shanghai, China. Charles Coates/Getty