Formula 1 has postponed the Bahrain and Vietnam Grands Prix, following on from the last-minute decision to call off this weekend’s season-opener in Australia due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Next weekend’s Bahrain GP was already set to take place behind closed doors, while Vietnam’s proximity to China – which was the first F1 race affected by the coronavirus situation – led to ongoing doubts about the country’s first race.
An F1 statement said it is hoped the season will start “in Europe at the end of May”, suggesting the Monaco Grand Prix could be a target first event, but it added “this will be regularly reviewed” as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase in Europe.
F1 chairman and CEO Chase Carey said: “The global situation regarding COVID-19 is fluid and very difficult to predict and it’s 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 added that postponing the opening races of the year “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 and governments and will work with them throughout this unpredictable period to safeguard the fans, competitors and all of the motor sport community,” Todt said.