2020 Bahrain and Vietnam Grands Prix Postponed

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Following the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix, Formula 1 has announced the postponement of both the Bahrain and Vietnam Grands Prix.

Next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix and Formula 1’s inaugural visit to Vietnam in April have both been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. It follows the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix just hours before the first scheduled on-track action at the season-opening race. A statement from F1 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 Federation, the Hanoi People’s Committee the Vietnamese Motorsports Association, and the Vietnam Grand Prix Corporation, a decision has been taken by all parties to postpone both races […] Formula 1 and the FIA continue to work closely with the race promoters in Bahrain and Vietnam and the local 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.”

The postponement of these two races means that F1 will not race until May at the earliest, with the statement going on to say that F1 and the FIA expect the season to begin at the end of May, but the situation “will be regularly reviewed”. Both the Dutch and Spanish Grands Prix, currently scheduled for May 3 and May 10 respectively, look unlikely to take place as planned.

The situation remains fluid, but if plans stay as they are it seems that Monaco would take the season-opening slot on May 24. It would be the first time that the Monaco Grand Prix has opened a Formula 1 season since 1966, and the sixth time it has done so in total. However, this may still be an optimistic target, with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on June 7 looking like a more realistic date.

Bahrain Grand Prix postponed

The 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix was scheduled to take place next weekend behind closed doors. Bahrain International Circuit released a statement following the event’s official cancellation:

The mutually agreed decision to postpone the race is the right thing to do, given recent developments and the overwhelming priority to protect the health of all concerned. We will be working closely with our partners at F1 and the FIA on monitoring the global situation and hope to be able to welcome the return of F1 later this year, once it is right to do so.”

Prior to the announcement, the Bahrain Grand Prix was already expected to be cancelled after a member of the McLaren team tested positive for coronavirus. Fourteen members of the McLaren team have now been placed in quarantine in Melbourne. The team had already withdrawn from the Australian Grand Prix prior to its cancellation, and their involvement in the Bahrain round also looked in doubt. None of McLaren’s race team members will return to the team’s base until the end of the month. Similarly, Red Bull announced that their focus was “ensuring that all personnel return home as safely and quickly as possible”, rather than heading to Bahrain.

Inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix postponed

The first ever Vietnam Grand Prix at the all-new Hanoi Street Circuit had been scheduled to take place on 3-5 April, but it is now hoped that a replacement date can be found later in the year. Vietnam has reported only 44 confirmed cases of coronavirus, but it is suspected that the actual figure is higher, given the fact that the country shares a border with China. The race’s postponement seemed somewhat inevitable, with Vietnam having placed restrictions on entry from certain countries. Rumours of the event’s cancellation began to surface on Wednesday, with the news eventually being made official two days later.

An extensive list of global motorsport events have also been cancelled or rescheduled. The MotoGP season is now not expected to start until May at the earliest, and Formula E have recently announced the temporary suspension of the 2019/20 season. In America, the first race of the IndyCar season will go ahead this weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida, but it will do so behind closed doors.

When do you think the F1 season will get underway? Have your Grand Prix attendance plans been affected? Leave a comment below.

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About the Author ()

Nicky Haldenby is a Formula One writer from Scarborough, England. Having grown up with F1 often on the TV on Sunday afternoons, Nicky has been following the sport avidly since 2006. After graduating from University in 2015 with a First Class degree in English Language and Literature, he founded his own F1 website and now regularly writes articles about both the sport's history and current affairs.

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