After some hemming and hawing over whether a cancellation was necessary, the FIA has officially postponed the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix on April 19 as a result of the Coronavirus. And it sounds like it’s going to be a real struggle to actually fit the race back into the schedule at a later date.
F1 has its longest schedule ever this year, with seven back-to-back race weekends. That’s a brutal calendar for anyone to try to accomplish—and it doesn’t bode well for a rescheduling of the Chinese GP. It’s a tough race to just pop in somewhere, considering a significant portion of the latter parts of the season take place in Europe and North America. Stick China in just anywhere, and you’ll have a five-week stretch of races, a long-haul trip from one continent to another and back again, or an entire schedule to reorganize.
Currently, The Powers That Be are considering moving the season finale in Abu Dhabi to a later date, allowing China to slot in just before it, Motorsport reports. It makes sense for plenty of reasons. It gives the coronavirus time to clear up, it doesn’t require a ton of logistical shifting, and it’s far enough out that it will be less likely to mess with anyone’s race attendance plans. Abu Dhabi would then likely take place in early December.
Formula E’s Sanya ePrix, scheduled for March 21st, was also cancelled due to the coronavirus. The FIA also hopes to reschedule that race, but it sounds like it’s less of a priority to the FIA than rescheduling F1.
These are currently the only two major motorsport events impacted by the coronavirus, and the FIA seems confident that other events will not be impacted. Cruises and flights to China have been cancelled, while countless Asian countries have begun cancelling concerts, large events, and are even talking about the potential impact the coronavirus could have on this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. Many companies are even announcing the cancellation of events at the Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest smartphone tradeshow, even though it’s taking place in Barcelona.
According to the World Health Organization’s latest situation report, there are currently 43,103 confirmed cases, with only 395 occurring outside of China.
The FIA has noted that it will likely take time to analyze the situation and adopt a new date—so don’t get your hopes up expecting any hard changes to happen soon.