Formula 1’s Dutch, Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix have all been officially postponed, guaranteeing the 2020 season will not begin earlier than June because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The global outbreak of COVID-19 had already forced the first four rounds of the season to be called off but organisers had hoped to start the campaign “at the end of May”.
That already caused confusion as it seemed to indicate that the Dutch and Spanish GPs would not take place on their planned dates in early May.
F1 boss Chase Carey then moved away from that target when he said the season would begin as soon as possible but a specific date could not be suggested.
The Dutch, Spanish and Monaco GPs have now been formally postponed amid the “ongoing and fluid nature” of the coronavirus outbreak.
It comes as no surprise, as The Race had already revealed last week that the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June had been mooted as the earliest likely start of the campaign.
The latest delays were announced by the governing body the FIA in conjunction with F1 and the three race promoters “to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains our primary concern”.
The FIA and F1 expect the season to begin “as soon as it is safe to do so after May”.
“The FIA and Formula 1 continue to work closely with affected promoters and 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,” said the statement.
Prince Albert II of Monaco has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a palace statement.