Start, Bahrain International Circuit, 2019

Official: F1 calls off Bahrain Grand Prix and Vietnam’s first race

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1’s races in Bahrain and Vietnam have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus, taking the number of events called off this year to four.

The championship announced the two races have been “postponed” from their planned dates of March 22nd and April 5th respectively, but has not confirmed when the races will go ahead.

The official statement from Formula 1 also cast doubt on whether the Dutch and Spanish Grand Prix will go ahead on their current dates of May 3rd and May 10th respectively.

“Formula 1 and the FIA expect to begin the championship in Europe at the end of May,” it said, “but given the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases in Europe in recent days, this will be regularly reviewed.” F1 is due to race in Monaco on May 24th, followed by the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on June 7th.

“The global situation regarding Covid-19 is fluid and very difficult to predict and its right we take time to assess the situation and make the right decisions,” said Formula 1 chairman and CEO Chase Carey.

F1 season could start in Monaco
“We are taking this decision with the FIA and our promoters to ensure the safety of everyone involved in Formula 1 and our fans. The Bahrain Grand Prix is an exciting race in our schedule, and we look forward to being back there as soon as we can. We are also looking forward to Vietnam’s inaugural race and bringing the spectacle of F1 to one of the most exciting cities in the world.”

FIA president Jean Todt said “postponing both the Bahrain and Vietnam Grands Prix, as with the Australian Grand Prix, was the only possible decision given all of the information currently available to us.

“We continue to rely on the input and advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) and governments and will work with them throughout this unpredictable period to safeguard the fans, competitors and all of the motor sport community.”

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How Coronavirus has changed the 2020 F1 calendar

1Australian Grand PrixMar 13-15Cancelled due to Coronavirus
2Bahrain Grand PrixMar 20-22Cancelled due to Coronavirus
3Vietnam Grand PrixApr 3-5Cancelled due to Coronavirus
4Chinese Grand PrixApr 17-19Cancelled due to Coronavirus
5Dutch Grand PrixMay 1-3
6Spanish Grand PrixMay 8-10
7Monaco Grand PrixMay 21-24
8Azerbaijan Grand PrixJun 5-7
9Canadian Grand PrixJun 12-14
10French Grand PrixJun 26-28
11Austrian Grand PrixJul 3-5
12British Grand PrixJul 17-19
13Hungarian Grand PrixJul 31-Aug 2
14Belgian Grand PrixAug 28-30
15Italian Grand PrixSep 4-6
16Singapore Grand PrixSep 18-20
17Russian Grand PrixSep 25-27
18Japanese Grand PrixOct 9-11
19United States Grand PrixOct 23-25
20Mexican Grand PrixOct 30-Nov 1
21Brazilian Grand PrixNov 13-15
22Abu Dhabi Grand PrixNov 27-29

This article will be updated.

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2020 F1 season

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Author information

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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101 comments on “Official: F1 calls off Bahrain Grand Prix and Vietnam’s first race”

  1. Extremely disappointing to have to wait so long for the F1 season to start, but it’s a completely understandable situation now. I’m not even sure that the end of May will be viable, given the rate of increase in Europe (perhaps Monaco might be possible). I really don’t see how the F1 season might really be able to get underway until the virus is generally contained, which will likely take more than a handful of months.

    1. Might even seem slightly extreme now, but I wouldn’t rule out maybe the whole season being cancelled. Even just a week ago, I wouldn’t have envisaged a situation where the season may not even start until the summer. If a significant number of team personnel are affected in the coming weeks and months, I don’t see how any teams will want to race at all.

      1. Yes, will prefer same.. let teams start to work on 2021 spec.. obviously many teams are less interested this season due to drastic changes next year.
        Can we start 2021 little early, by shuffling venues ?
        Increase the testing time for 2021.

    2. Large scale testing can lead to better targeting of preventive measures and quicker control of spread. This has been demonstrated by South Korea. If Europe can replicate this model, then some of the European round of races in the first half season can be salvaged behind closed doors.
      If you can’t test, the alternative model which has also been effective is large sequestrations of the population as done by China. China now has nearly one-fifth the cases per million population compared to Italy. But this approach may also include the cancellation of the entire first half season.
      I thought the China GP was only postponed? Can some of the cancelled races be reinstated later on in the season?

      1. @fiamd It’s too late for Europe or the US to recreate the actions of a single country… Both are continents with many permeable borders between the member states, whereas South Korea is bordered entirely by oceans or a military DMZ.

        1. @optimaximal Your submission is entirely correct if you read what I wrote as meaning “large scale testing of nationals” only.
          The right public health approach is to look at the resident population and not nationals only. You do the right thing to protect people irrespective of who walks across the border.
          Travel bans, while effective under extreme circumstances, is actually a sub-optimal measure and an admission of failure. Testing will reveal those with the virus (and who should be quarantined) and if all countries were doing so will make travel bans meaningless.

      2. @fiamd All the postponed races (except Melbourne of course) are indeed being looked at for later on in the season, but I’m not entirely sure how you would fit all of the Bahrain GP, Vietnam GP, Chinese GP, and potentially even the Spanish and the Dutch GPs all into the 2nd half of the year. Plus, given how 2021 is a huge year for F1 with colossal changes and new regulations, I think teams would want adequate time from the final race of 2020 to winter testing for 2021, so it’s unlikely they’d agree to F1 running past mid-December.

        1. Plus, given how 2021 is a huge year for F1 with colossal changes and new regulations, I think teams would want adequate time from the final race of 2020 to winter testing for 2021, so it’s unlikely they’d agree to F1 running past mid-December.

          I won’t take credit for it as it was proposed by somebody else, but why not delay the 2021 technical rules for 1 year and run the 2020 cars for a super season from the end of May 2020 to somewhere late in 2021.
          All teams save a bit of money on developing an extra car (2020 runs for 2 years) and there is more time for the 2021 (now 2022) car; especially smaller teams will appreciate this second consequence.

          1. I hope not. I thought the 2021 changes were to bring closer racing and to improve the product for spectators. Personally, I would rather the virus accelerates the end of the current regulations, not prolongs them.

          2. @coldplay I’m not sure the smaller teams would necessarily appreciate that. That is because now the money they get from races will half, and they will basically get a season’s worth of money (22 races for example) across 2020 and 2021, whereas otherwise, they would have gotten 44 races across 2020 and 2021. I know that this pandemic is something that teams didn’t exactly plan for, but I think teams like Haas might just be forced to quit due to considerably lower revenues for the next 2 years. Add a potential financial crisis, and sponsorship money may take a hit as well.

    3. 2020 F1 Season is DONE for good.IT WONT HAPPEN AT ALL,PERIOD.
      Corona is accelerating and planning or hoping to do european races is just as stupid as dreaming of doing Australia 1 week ago.
      Australia It was doomed from day one.
      Coronavirus needs 6 months to START to be controlled.
      Get with it.
      2020 F1 season is finished.

      1. I assume that when F1 2020 the videogame is released, it’ll just be an empty box then?

  2. Seems inevitable the Dutch and Spanish GPs will be postponed as well, which I’ll be gutted about as the Dutch GP will be my first but can understand.

  3. While this is completely understandable what are we all going to do without our F1 fix? I’d imagine that Spain, Holland and Monaco are also all prime candidates for cancellation, so if the season doesn’t start until Baku that means we have to wait until June for the first race of the season.

    1. @geemac it’ll be even worse if we all get forced to take two weeks off work and shut ourselves inside. So much time, so little sport…

      (Sorry. Distasteful joke.)

      1. I already decided the ‘rewatch’ last year’s NetFlix F1 series.
        Maybe we can do this simultaneously and review the episodes on a daily basis.

        Of course, some Caption Competition will also help to bridge this long winter gap.

    2. What are we all going to do without our F1 fix?

      Erm, get on with other things? :)

      1. @optimaximal Wait, are you telling me you people have lives outside of watching F1?

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      13th March 2020, 16:41

      I just picked up Assetto Corsa Competizione and a new wheel for my PC so that’s my weekend revived!

    4. Nothing. There will be no F1 fix for awhile. I watch football a lot too and some of the leagues I follow have been canceled.

      We will just have to accept the losses. There is a lot of economic losses all around.

    5. Maybe watch full replays of an F1 season you haven’t seen before. It’s a strange, but familiar experience.

  4. This is the sort of decisive decision making that ought to have been shown a day or two sooner for Australia, at the very latest.

    Better late than never, though.

    That said, it’s just sinking in… no more F1 for a few more months. Effectively a twice as long winter break. Aaaargh. Time to rewatch some old races.

    1. Indeed. It looks like finally they’ve been able to muster a pair of balls between the lot of em!

    2. You are an optimist huh?

  5. You think cancelling the Aus Grand Prix was like pulling teeth? The Dutch are never gonna accept their race being cancelled.
    Buckle up.

    1. GtisBetter (@)
      13th March 2020, 12:58

      Not sure why you would think that. The dutch will accept it. Everything else is cancelled without any problems.

    2. What can they do? Throw a clog?

      1. @greenflag Lol……..Funny as mate ;)
        They might spit the dum and chuck their orange tinted glasses

    3. @hahostolze

      Don’t be silly.

  6. Completely understandable!

    Just gutted that what could have become an epic season is now being put to the test by Coronavirus:

    – Red Bull vs. Mercedes
    – Max vs. lewis vs. Charles
    – Honda vs. Mercedes vs. Ferrari
    – Zandvoort, Vietnam

    teams will now have plenty of time to develop their car and fix any issues they may have had. Maybe even develop DAS for themselves. Its going to wipe out any advantage any team may have had at season opener and in the end Merc and Lewis will win again. Sigh!

    1. I’m worried it’ll widen Williams disadvantage.

      1. @gongtong How so?

        They, like most teams, will likely just wind up any development on the 2020 and divert all funds to the 2021 car. There won’t be anything to learn from running the 2020 car that will go towards next year, so most teams other than the top-3 will just run their basic car, fulfil contractual obligations to appear at races that are running and double-down on development work.

        The finance that would have been used for the mid-season updates in Spain & Belgium will just be cancelled.

        1. @optimaximal Williams could well be out of business if this goes on too long. Sure, there are no cost for travel and currrent car development, but the biggest part of cost are employee salaries. Those won’t stop.

          Williams receives 60 million in FOM money (TV rights, price money, etc.) if we lose 5 or 6 races, they might lose over 15 million…. if it is 10 or more races they simply might not survive.

          1. @jeffreyj My concern also. Their budget is tight as it is, add also I presume loss of sponsorship payouts and their future has to be rocky.

            Haas has additionally not committed to next year yet, so what are the implications of cancelled races on them?

        2. @optimaximal you’re probably very right.

          Apologies, late reply. I rarely login!

  7. Let’s aim to start 2020 with Spa in August and hope and pray that that is not over optimistic.

  8. ”as with the Australian Grand Prix”
    – Well, the Australian GP can’t get postponed to a later part of the year due to it being a temporary-venue rather than a permanent one for infrastructural reasons.

    1. Vietnam is also part public road (Lê Quang Đạo), but I can see the local government pulling out all the stops to make the streets available for any possible rearranged date.
      I sense there will be a bigger push from Liberty to reschedule this than any other race.

    2. @jerejj Well, it’s a park, so the government will just sequester it again if the agreement they reach with FOM means it’s rescheduled. The problem for the race the only time that’s feasible for Australia is the start or the end of the season and I doubt Abu Dhabi will letter the latter position go without a refund on their fees…

      1. @optimaximal But for the same infrastructural reasons, it couldn’t even take place at the end of the season since it’d then be too close to the beginning of the next campaign, and especially since the period of track build-up commences in January every year. The Vietnamese GP isn’t an entirely comparable case here since it’s a first-time event and venue.

  9. Just to be clear – Vietnam is postponed, not cancelled…otherwise I’d be seeing a refund for my ticket right now…

    1. Just because they say it’s postponed doesn’t mean it is. To ‘postpone’ something means to arrange it for a later time. That hasn’t happened yet, so to say it’s ‘postponed’ is spin on their part (and not just for this race, there’s plenty of others doing it too). To be correct, they should say they ‘aim to postpone’ the race.

      1. I think we can fill the time until the end of May with discussing the meaning of ‘postpone’ ;)

      2. Well cancel to me means my ticket is fully refundable.

        As of this afternoon the ticket vendor has confirmed organisers haven’t agreed to refunding them and my current option is to exchange for a gift voucher…so yeah…not cancelled. Postponed until further notice.

        1. Well that entirely depends term F1 had with your ticket vendor and what the ticket vendor have with you.

          Woulsnt be surprised if there’s an “act of god” clause in there, like with insurance. You should check it so you will know what to do if they announce anything.

    2. It’s cancelled in all but name. There is no way the race is going to happen this year. Everything is booked for the other races so moving them is highly unlikely. So the likelihood of it being financially and logistically viable is nonexistent.

  10. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    13th March 2020, 13:16

    This is a much better time to cancel them than wait until the last moment.

    I’m so pleased i haven’t bought nowtv’s fixed price of 198.99gbp for the full 9 month deal of 22 races. They should have known that many would be cancelled. Doubt they will get many customers this year with them charging that price given the circumstances. The offer only was available a few days ago and back then it was already looking unlikely that a lot of races would go ahead.

    1. @BenRowe, keep the pass safe, will probably be a great collectors’ item in the years to come….

    2. nowtv’s fixed price of 198.99gbp for the full 9 month deal of 22 races

      @thegianthogweed – £200 for just F1 coverage? Wow, that is seriously expensive.

      BTW, what’s the relationship between NowTV and Sky? I thought it was Sky who had the F1 broadcast deal in the UK?

      1. Same company, NowTV is the streaming service from Sky that doesn’t require a satalite dish

      2. NowTV is the name of the streaming service provided by Sky.

        They have subscriptions for Entertainment (Sky One channels and content etc), Movies (Sky Movies), Sports (Sky Sports).
        You can buy passes Monthly for Entertainment and Movies, but Daily, Weekly for Sports. Or as above – an F1 package!

        This is streaming only so all content is through internet connection, not Satellite Dish.

        1. Thank you, Dan.

      3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        13th March 2020, 14:31


        NowTV is what you can use to get access to some sky channels for a limited amount of time. Usually it will be 39.99gbp a month. The pointless thing they do IMO is that they force you to get the offer for sky sports in general, which gives you 11 channels. If you are interested in practice, qualifying and the race, then 95% plus of what they force you to get is worthless pretty much.

        They are stating that you are saving 35% by getting this 200gbp deal. They are correct that if you don’t currently have any sort of sky package that you already pay for, then it is the best deal, but it is just too expensive still.

        The other thing is that the coverage is just 720p, no better than what iplayer had available over a decade ago. The value for money for this is simply shocking in my opinion. You can pay an extra 3 pound a month to get 1080p but I wouldn’t want to give them any more money. I may have to get used to watching the channel 4 highlights in the uk. They have been granted permission to show extended highlights this year (an extra 30 minutes on race day over last year). They also are now allowed to show the highlights a bit sooner afer the live race too.

        This coverage likely will be a good option given so many races won’t be going ahead. Certainly not worth the price nowtv are charging for the full season given the circumstances at the moment.

        1. @thegianthogweed – thanks for that detail and context. Wow, they really are gouging you in the UK, and I can now better understand the ire when you folks lost FTA.

          The other thing is that the coverage is just 720p. You can pay an extra 3 pound a month to get 1080p

          Ah, segmentation at it’s finest.

          The only good thing I see is the amount of pre and post-race coverage that Sky put into their F1 coverage, for someone who has the time and inclination to follow that.

          1. What will be the their streaming plan cost for imaginary races?

            I imagine it would be slightly less.

        2. 720P isn’t really that bad.

          1. 720P isn’t really that bad.

            For £200/year?

          2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            13th March 2020, 23:41

            When 1080P has been available on Freeview on some channels for over a decade, expensive pay TV with 720P is very poor indeed for 2020. And if I’m honest, i think it looks closer to 576p at peak times when it has a lot of viewers.

          3. The resolution is insignificant when Sky’s bitrate is so appalling.

  11. Only way these postponed events can be accommodated with 2020 season not running into Jan is if FIA drops the summer vacation. Just cancel these events instead of announcing postponed until furthur notice.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      13th March 2020, 13:50

      If things are better by then and we’re back racing, I could see them getting rid of the summer vacation. It won’t be needed…

      1. @petebaldwin There wouldn’t be room for all of them anyway, though.

  12. I’m tempted to say how bought scrap the whole season and give every team a whole season to have a go at next years car. This way every one has a fair crack at the new season and new rules

    1. I bet RB won’t be happy with that

  13. This had to happen. There was no other way. I think there will be more races to be cancelled. I believe that at least the Dutch and Spanish GP will be races to be cancelled in the next weeks.
    But that gives everyone the opportunity to be safe for the next weeks. Maybe even implement a mandatory factory shutdown for two weeks. Maybe even until early April. Then allow teams to continue their work at the factory. In August, have races during the time when they would usually hold their Summer break. At least the European rounds and maybe Bahrain (might be too hot then). The races that are hardest to move are the ones on a Street circuit, like Melbourne.
    I think that If there is real interest in racing at all the cancelled venues later this year, the FIA/F1 need to find a way for Abu Dhabi to budge either not being the last race or move it back. further.

    1. @us-brian Why even suggest Bahrain for August given it’s unbearable for more or less any outdoor activities at that time of year.

    2. I wonder how codemasters are going to navigate this season. Would anyone buy an F1 game with only 7 tracks/rounds? Assuming they want the game to be truly authentic and a reflection of reality!

  14. So F1’s longest ever season will be its shortest ever season eventually

    1. The season has to start first lol

    2. Also shortest ever is a stretch, seasons in the 1950s had 7 races!

  15. Too much, too soon. South Korea has through a massive testing scheme of 200 000 people found out that the real mortality rate is around 0,6%.

    Of course it’s more than 0,1 – 0,2% of seasonal flu, but nowhere near the 3-4% that’s the basis of the panic measures. For younger and fitter people like the f1 crews, it shouldn’t really pose any real danger.

    The races could have gone ahead with emtpy stands and special flights for the crews if need be. Most people watch on TV anyway.

    1. Luckily most people have now come to their senses and see Covid-19 not as apocalyptic as initially, @balue.
      But having said that, no healthcare system can cope with a sudden spike in these infections. Thus what we need to do is to spread it out, and that is all that is being aimed by these measures.

      1. @Coldfly I can’t see how a f1 crew in dedicated planes going straight to the circuit and back could possibly be such a factor in the countries spread, and thereby healthcare load. It’s not like the countries are locked down for other business travel either.

    2. Yeah the mortality rate for South Korea is 0.6%. Italy has it closer to 5% and 1000 deaths so far in just a few weeks and their healthcare system is under huge strain.

      How you seek to contain it is important. Thats why the could tries that all had SARS responded well, because they all made guidelines for what to do if something similar happened again.

      Thats why you do these measures, because you want to be South Korea, and not Italy.

    3. the real mortality rate is around 0,6%

      It’s currently around 5-6% in Italy and spiked slightly higher due to the strain their healthcare system is under with the number of cases, this highlights how important it is to stop rapid spreading.

      1. @grandmasterorge The difference is due to measuring, not that that Italians are more susceptible. This has long been known. Inadequate measuring gives a false result. With proper measuring it’s 0.6%. Normal flu is lower but here the people in the risk group have taken vaccines, so in reality they are not much different.

  16. Are any teams in danger of collapsing due to these cancellations? Does it affect teams financially each race they miss, regardless of the reasons?

    1. (just guessing) Their payments by FOM are based on last year. Thus as long as FOM survives all teams will get that part of income, @shimks.
      Of course, their income from sponsorship could be linked to exposure. Big companies will pay; not sure if there are many rogue sponsors like that bearded guy left.

      1. Great, thanks for the info, @coldfly.

  17. Zandvoort has cancelled/postponed the race as well, just now. Source

  18. José Lopes da Silva
    13th March 2020, 16:00

    This is a conspiracy to stop Lewis from taking the wins record from Schumacher!

    1. At least now Barrichello will have a chance to retain his record of most races too!

    2. It’s more than that, if we have a season with very few races, hamilton risks to not win a race for the first season ever! Schumacher in his first stint also always won a race whenever he was given a full season, he just wasn’t given one in 1991.

  19. I wonder what the impact is to the PU limit. Maybe 3 PUs per season could get cut to 2 if we lose 7+ races to cancellation. Postponement means the PUs are still potentially used for those races so only a cancellation could really count against the cap. Personally I hope they keep 3 PUs for the season no matter how few races there are; we’d see less engine saving in practice, quali and racing.

    Small potatoes relative to the health concern though. The other F1 impact I was pondering is to HAM’s chance of breaking Shumi’s wins record this season before the ’21 rules change shakes things up. Maybe the big teams will use this pause to focus on ’21 cars even earlier.

    OK, I’m off to wash my hands again.

  20. So what do we do ?
    Wish I still had my Scalextric setup.

  21. I also feel bad for @keithcollantine and staff. The amount of asterisks in the stats and the numbers of streaks that will either end or be caveated (i.e. Albert Park has held a race every season since 2004…) with this seasons’ cancellations will cause headaches for years to come.

    Comment from 2028:
    “Your numbers are off, Keith!!”

    1. Tommy Scragend
      13th March 2020, 21:05

      Albert Park has held a race every season since 1996!

      1. I don’t mind them losing this streak, I preferred adelaide!

  22. The chances of any racing before the summer break now look very slim indeed. The epidemic modelling suggests that the European infection peak will arrive somewhere between 8 and 14 weeks from now (with large error bars). Even if this is right, there won’t be any racing on the down slope of infection (i.e. after the peak) until herd immunity is high enough and the health systems can cope. That could easily be another 14 weeks after the peak. That would put us in September. And this is an optimistic forecast…

  23. It is not the end of the world.

    F1 employs some extremely tallented and creative folks who thrive on challenges – the greater the challenge, the more they rise to it.

  24. This year’s cars may never turn a wheel in anger. Pretty soon, teams are going to find there are no flights/freight available.

    Question for non UK people. Is your media making this out to be the end of the world like ours is?

    1. Yep! Sure is! It’s making it really difficult to truly gauge the threat

    2. As an Australian I can confirm that yes it is, pretty sure fear of corona virus is doing more damage than the virus itself.

  25. The three eras of Grand Prix racing: pre-war, post-war, and post-corona…

  26. I heard a suggestion elsewhere that all the F1 drivers should have virtual Grand Prixs in iracing that we can watch. It’s not like they have anything else on those weekends now.

    1. Starz just ran Senna, the last half hour made me even more depressed…

  27. Super disappointed. Was excited for several different championships this year. Even if they get underway later, they are all going to have an asterisk. Gonna be a bummer year by the looks of it.

  28. Perhaps the 2020 rule changes should get deferred to 2021 if most of this season gets postponed.

  29. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    14th March 2020, 3:53

    Can someone explain why they ‘postponed’ Bahrain even though it was supposed to run behind closed doors?

  30. My guess is with the current outbreaks,no one wants to be locked in the padock with McLaren / Ferrari & AT

  31. Can every “postponed” announcement just be called cancelled. For God’s sake, when on earth could they be rescheduled that make financial and logistical sense? The mid season break? I doubt it. You might get one in, but I highly doubt the teams will want to go across the world and back again for one race.

Comments are closed.