The Formula One governing body announced this week that resultant on the coronavirus outbreak that it would be, for the first time since 1955, cancelling the Monaco Grand Prix after initially postponing the race as a measure to prevent possible spreading on the virus.
The Monaco Grand Prix was scheduled to take place on the weekend of May 22-24th in the independent Mediterranean coastal principality that lies between France and Italy. After announcing the cancellation of Monaco, the F1 Governing body added the Spanish Grand Prix and Dutch Grand Prix to its list of races that are postponed.
The Monaco Grand Prix, a staple F1 event that draws in crowds hoping for a taste of being up close and personal with drivers and the uber-rich is infamous for the sights showcasing million-dollar yachts and those who are rich and famous. In a statement, the Automobile Club de Monaco said that it simply was not possible to host the race at a later date and therefore it had to be cancelled.
The Dutch Grand Prix has also been impacted by the outbreak and was slated to return for the first time since 1985 to the Zandvoort track on the 3rd of May but has since been postponed. Th Spanish Grand Prix on the 10th has suffered the same result which will result in the F1 season now not getting underway until the first week of June.
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However, the Governing body of the FIA said it would not start the season until such time as it is safe to do so and more races could be postponed or cancelled if the coronavirus outbreak continues. While the virus causes only symptoms that are mild in most people, the risk is high for those older or at risk and can cause death, especially in those who have pre-existing problems with their health. As a result, the governing body’s decision as stated on Thursday read,
“in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains our primary concern.”
It was only hours last weekend prior to the season opening race in Melbourne Australia that the race was cancelled. That also saw the F1 governing body quickly postponing the Bahrain Grand Prix that was to go on albeit without fans as was the Chinese Grand Prix.
Formula One also opted to give teams flexibility under the circumstances with respect to choosing their mid-season break. This is to allow for greater flexibility is the re-arranging of races and agreed that all rule changes slated for 2021 would not go into effect until 2022 as a way to reduce the financial burden resultant on this year’s cancellations amid the coronavirus outbreak.
It is unknown if additional cancellations will follow for Azerbaijan, Canada and France however Chase Carey, F1 chief executive stated,
“There will be a need for extra flexibility to accommodate a rescheduled season once the COVID-19 situation improves. This will give us the necessary flexibility to agree revised timings with affected race promoters and to be ready to start racing at the right moment,” Carey said in a statement on F1’s website. “We are all very grateful for the collaborative nature of the discussions, and fully united approach from all parties to get racing in 2020 as soon as the current global situation subsides.”
The F1 season ends in November at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but it may be extended to accommodate some of the postponed races. In order to determine a season champion, a minimum of eight races must be completed with no less than twelve cars participating in each race.