Formula 1 has confirmed the Bahrain and Vietnam Grand Prix’s have been postponed over Coronavirus fears, with the season expected to be delayed until the end of May.
The announcement comes following the decision to cancel this weekend’e season-opening Australian Grand Prix after a member of McLaren tested positive for the virus.
McLaren swiftly released a statement saying it would be withdrawing from the Melbourne weekend with immediate effect.
It is understood teams held crisis talks with F1 bosses and the FIA on Thursday night over plans to pull the plug on the race before a decision was vindicated the following morning.
With China having already postponed its event on April 19, F1 and the FIA will closely monitor the situation over the coming months before working with race promoters over potential alternative dates.
A joint statement issued by F1, the governing body, race organisers and relevant governments read: “In view of the continued global spread of COVID-19 and after ongoing discussions with the FIA, the Bahrain International Circuit, the Bahrain Motor Federarion and the Hanoi People’s Committee, the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Automobile Association of Vietnam and the promoter, Vietnam Grand Prix Corporation a decision has been taken by all parties to postpone both races due to take place on the 20th – 22nd March and April 3rd – 5th April respectively.
“Following the announcement of the Australian Grand Prix’s cancellation this week and the ongoing and fluid nature of the COVID-19 situation globally, Formula 1, the FIA and the promoters have taken these decisions in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains our primary concern.
“Formula 1 and the FIA continue to work closely with the race promoters in Bahrain and Vietnam and the local health authorities to monitor the situation and take the appropriate amount of time to study the viability of potential alternative dates for each Grand Prix later in the year should the situation improve.
“As a result, Formula 1 and the FIA expect to begin the Championship in Europe at the end of May but given the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Europe in recent days, this will be regularly reviewed.”
It is now unclear as to when the 2020 season will officially commence due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.
Should the situation continue to escalate, the running of the Dutch and Spanish Grand Prix’s could also come under threat.
“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 F1 CEO Chase Carey.
“We are taking this decision with the FIA and our promoters to ensure the safety of everyone involved in Formula 1 and our fans.”