Formula E is leaving open the possibility of reinstating the Sanya E-Prix later this year after being forced to cancel the original scheduled date of 21 March.
The second running of a Sanya E-Prix on the island at the southern tip of China was cancelled on Sunday due to travel restrictions imposed in response to the outbreak of coronavirus.
The virus can cause Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and has spread throughout China and to many other countries across the globe.
The majority of upcoming sporting events in China have been postponed or cancelled. These include the UCI Tour of Hainan cycle event scheduled for two weeks before the Sanya E-Prix was scheduled to take place.
The US Department of State released a ‘do not travel’ warning last week recommending that US citizens do not leave the country, and the UK Foreign Office advised against ‘all but essential travel’ to China.
With the majority of Formula E’s organisational staff based in London and teams such as Dragon and Andretti Autosport having some staff located in the US, the practicalities of travelling and probable insurance complications meant Sanya hosting a race became unfeasible.
Formula E stated on Saturday that it will “continue monitoring the situation as it develops. All parties will take the appropriate amount of time to study the viability of potential alternative dates should the situation improve”.
This will include working with its long-time Greater China regional partner Enova Holdings Ltd to look at the feasibility of a rescheduled Sanya E-Prix for later in the season.
Realistically, the only dates that a race could take place are over the weekends of 16/17 May or 23/24 May.
This is when Formula E’s infrastructure will be in Asia between the inaugural Seoul and Jakarta races scheduled for 3 May and 6 June respectively.
Either side of these dates Formula E will be in Europe, running that part of its calendar in two separate legs for the first time in series history.
This occurred due to May 3 being selected as the Korean race date to tie in with a national holiday.
The Seoul track will be located in the Songpa district and will consist of roads in and around the Jamsil stadium that hosted the 1988 Olympic Games.
Another option for Formula E to replace Sanya would be to add a round by creating a double-header event at either Berlin or New York.
The Race has learned that teams are largely split on their favoured location for such a scenario, with the four German manufacturers mostly preferring a two-race Berlin event should it be feasible.
Discussions between Formula E Operations executives and teams will take place this week to ensure that a swift decision on the make-up of the present calendar can be agreed upon.
The loss of Sanya will be felt keenly by the Formula E paddock because of the race’s commercial importance, particularly for teams such as DS Techeetah, Envision Virgin and NIO333 that are all owned or mostly owned by Chinese companies.
However, last year’s inaugural Sanya E-Prix was poorly attended by fans and the track itself received only lukewarm reviews from teams and drivers.