Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

FIA “closely monitoring” coronavirus threat to F1 and other races

2020 F1 season

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The FIA has indicated it is prepared to make changes to its calendar of motor racing events, potentially including Formula 1, in response to the spread of the coronavirus throughout China.

China has reported over 7,000 cases spread across the country, and 170 deaths attributed to the virus. It is believed to have originated in the city of Wuhan, which has been closed off in an effort to contain the outbreak.

Formula E is due to visit Sanya, an island some 700 kilometres south of Wuhan, for a race on March 21st. Formula 1’s Chinese Grand Prix will be held at the Shanghai International Circuit, 500km east of Wuhan, from April 17th-19th. Shanghai will also host other FIA-sanctioned GT races later in the year and the World Touring Car Cup is due to visit Ningbo in September.

“Following the coronavirus epidemic that broke out in China at the beginning of the year, the FIA is closely monitoring the evolving situation with relevant authorities and its member clubs, under the direction of FIA Medical Commission President, Professor Gerard Saillant,” said the FIA in a statement.

“The FIA will evaluate the calendar of its forthcoming races and, if necessary, take any action required to help protect the global motor sport community and the wider public.”

[smr2020test]The virus has already had an impact on other international sports. The International Ski Federation has cancelled the downhill and super-G races which were due to take place on February 15th and 16th in Yanqing. The World Indoor Athletics Championship in Nanjing, which was scheduled for March 13th to 15th, has been postponed by a year.

The potential spread of the virus beyond China’s borders may also prove a concern. The city of Hanoi, which is due to host its first grand prix on April 5th, lies close to Vietnam’s northern border with China.

The last time a scheduled F1 race did not go ahead for anything other than contractual reasons was in 2011, when the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix was postponed and later cancelled for security reasons after a month-long protest in the capital was forcibly suppressed.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “FIA “closely monitoring” coronavirus threat to F1 and other races”

  1. After all the talk of 2020 having a record 22 races, it would be slightly amusing if China ended up being cancelled, taking us back to 21 again.

    1. @eurobrun Indeed, and that would also create a gap of the summer break-length early in the season, unless the first three rounds would get pushed back by seven days each or at least Bahrain and Vietnam, which with this little notice would be very unlikely, though.

      1. @eurobrun I meant ‘Australia by seven days, Bahrain and Vietnam by 14 days’ – sorry for the calculation-error. Alternative; Bahrain and Vietnam by seven days.

    2. Jokes apart, being a sport event where 1000s of spectators are in close vicinity of each other it would be really wise to cancel events until the outbreak comes under control. Given the fact that most money comes from ticket sales of the event and anyways FOM would be losing money if fans dont turn up or the event is held behind closed doors with fans not allowed at race venue due to health safety reasons.

      1. FOM get nearly all their money up front, the ticket sales are really of no importance to their bottom line at all chaitanya – the ticket sales are just about the only thing that goes into the books for the track itself.

  2. An unexpected break would be more logical than trying to reschedule any events at short notice. Cancelling one race while a last resort, should never be force majore to move other events, especially with individual promoters, etc.

    Ironically the size of the modern calendar gives no opportunity to reschedule a race cancelled for legitimate reasons. You’ll never again see the like of ’85 where Belgium was abandoned after track break up and rescheduled for later in the year, there just isn’t the time.

    1. Sorry, this was a reply to @jerejj above

  3. Global warming, global warming.

    1. @peartree This matter is about a virus, though.

      1. @jerejj, the poster you are referencing often posts utterly random and incoherent rants, to the point where it is hard to tell whether it is trolling or, judging by the paranoid tone of some of his posts, whether he has severe mental health issues.

  4. Maybe the FIA should also be monitoring the destruction of coral reefs in the South China Sea and how many Uyghurs have been sent to Re-Education camps last year… just sayin’.
    There should be no race in China period.

    1. I have to agree. Seeing the F1 cars driving around in that awfully polluted area of Shanghai is a bit depressing, too.

    2. Ambrogio Isgro
      30th January 2020, 23:12

      Then Russia (Crimea, Donbass, Cecenia, homophobia, etc), UAE (Yemen), Brasil (coup d’etat, Amazonia), Vietnam (khmer), US (Guantanamo, Assange, Snowden, Jerusalem)…

    3. Let Greta replace Chase Carey.

  5. Given the rate of spread which has occurred already and the fact that cases keep popping outside of China there is a high chance coronavirus will be everywhere by the time the Melbourne GP is on. Hopefully I’m wrong but the number of reported infections is probably not even close to the real number. Bottomline is I think there will be no point trying to cancel races to contain the disease if it is still an issue by then, it would be like trying to contain the common cold.

  6. Flu, ordinary flu, is as contagious, as deadly (based on current numbers) and kills much more people in just 7 days than all other “pandemics” combined in a whole year.

    I do NOT say this coronavirus is not bad, it is bad, but not worse than anything else, and certainly doesn’t warrant the panic we see now.

    1. Have you been in touch with the World Health Organisation to tell them how wrong they are?

      1. I didn’t say they were exactly wrong.

        They are hypocrites, fanning the hysteria around this virus, but staying silent and doing little about other “lesser” illnesses, which actually kill much more people.

    2. It’s more the idea but the flu was ALWAYS very dangerous anyone remember the spanish flu…. Still the coronavirus is still bad enough.

      1. Yes.
        That’s why it is stupid to cry doom about some virus, which killed 200 people, when flu kills 600000 people each ear.

        1. The WHO are dealing with an unknown, fast spreading fatal disease that hasn’t got a vaccine. The last time there was a similar disease, Sars, it killed 10% of those who had it. Ordinary flu doesn’t kill in those numbers.

        2. @dallein, as Jon Bee rightly notes, the reason why they are concerned is because, whilst seasonal flu might kill around 390,000 people a year globally on average – your figure of 600,000 is well over even the WHO’s maximum upper bound estimate – most seasonal flu outbreaks have a fatality rate of about 0.1-0.2%, whilst the vast majority of those who do die from season flu (over two thirds) are over the age of 65. Basically, your chances of dying during a seasonal flu outbreak are exceptionally low and the highest risk is usually only to those who are elderly, not the wider population as a whole.

          Now, at the moment the WHO is still investigating the full extent of the outbreak so it is challenging to tell quite how severe it is, but very early estimates of the lethality rate suggest it could be as high as 2-4%. If that is the case then, whilst not quite as dangerous as Sars, the Coronavirus would have a higher lethality rate than normal flu.

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