F1 chairman Chase Carey has told Sky Sports it would be “challenging” to reschedule the Chinese GP later in 2020 if the threat from the coronavirus subsides but is optimistic other events in the region – including the inaugural Vietnam GP – will be unaffected.
This year’s race in Shanghai will now not take place as scheduled in mid-April owing to the outbreak of a virus which has claimed more than 1,100 lives in the country.
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F1 has said it will see if there if the Chinese round can be rescheduled later in the year if the situation improves, but Carey acknowledged this could still prove tricky.
“We’ve been looking at things,” Carey told Sky Sports News at a conference in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“We will work with our Chinese partner, they are a good partner and a valued partner, we will discuss with them options.
“It’s challenging at this point to try and figure out how to fit it into a tight schedule that’s pretty packed, and realistically we still don’t know how this plays out.
“Until you really know how this plays out, it’s tough to say what’s possible and what’s not possible.”
What about Vietnam?
China had been scheduled to follow the first-ever Vietnam GP on this year’s calendar, with the new street event in Hanoi taking place on April 5.
There have been 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Vietnam.
Asked if there were currently any concerns about the feasibility of racing in Hanoi – plus F1’s other two Asian rounds later in the season of Singapore and Japan – Carey said: “We have been in touch with all of our promoters and at this point everything is going forward.
“Everybody is dealing with this real time. At this point in all these places the number of infected individuals is still a handful, but we sort of have to see how it looks like as we go forward.
“So at this point we’re hopeful that they’ve got on top of it, certainly in those places, they’ve put protections in place and have taken steps to get ahead of it. We have to see where this plays out. But certainly at this point everything in those places is going ahead.”
How easy is it to reschedule races?
F1 was gearing up for the longest season in its 70-year history this year, 22 races, with those events across the globe taking place in the space of 38 weekends.
Any attempt to reschedule a race in China would therefore be fraught with difficulty with few ‘free’ slots available without stacking up events or extending the season.
Arif Rahimov, the executive director of the Azerbaijan GP, told Sky Sports News: “Rescheduling is practically impossible with 22 races. It’s a very slim chance for any race to be rescheduled in the same year.