Feb.7 (GMM) The clock is ticking on the likely cancellation or postponement of the 2020 Chinese GP.
The coronavirus death toll – currently at 635 – continues to rise by the day, prompting the Shanghai Sports Federation this week to call for the suspension of “all sports events”.
The issue was discussed by F1’s strategy group on Wednesday, and Germany’s Bild newspaper claims the cancellation of the Shanghai race in April is “imminent”.
But F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn says he can wait a few weeks for the decision.
“Sea freight is due to leave next week, but it wouldn’t be a disaster if the ship had to turn around,” he told Bild.
“But in just under three weeks, the first employees go over and prepare the circuit. For us, this is the critical date on which we need feedback.”
Brawn admitted the “probability” that the race will not go ahead as scheduled in April, but he is leaving open the hope of a delayed event “later in the year”.
“China is an enthusiastic, growing market so we’d like to have a race there,” he said.
However, Russia has ruled out swapping race dates with China, and the teams have rejected the idea of shortening the August break or creating a ‘triple header’ at the very end of the season.
According to Auto Motor und Sport, F1 cannot unilaterally cancel or postpone the race because of the contractual implications.
“We’re waiting for the promoter and authorities to make the final decision, which I think they will,” Brawn said.
Shanghai has banned all sporting events for March, while another F1 host – the 2020 calendar newcomer Vietnam – has introduced a similar ban for February.
But the Vietnam Grand Prix Corporation said in a statement: “For now, we don’t anticipate any significant impact on our April event.”