The 2020 Dutch, Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix have all been postponed as the coronavirus pandemic continues to delay the start of the Formula 1 season.Following the postponements of the Australian, Bahrain, Chinese and Vietnam Grands Prix, the next three races on the Formula 1 calendar have been officially postponed. The news means that, at the earliest, the 2020 Formula 1 season will begin in Baku, with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend currently scheduled for 5-7 June. A statement from Formula 1 read: “In view of the continued global spread of COVID-19 and after ongoing discussions with the FIA and the three promoters it has today been confirmed that the Formula 1 Heineken Dutch Grand Prix 2020, Formula 1 Gran Premio De España 2020 and Formula 1 Grand Prix De Monaco 2020 will be postponed. Due to the ongoing and fluid nature of the COVID-19 situation globally, Formula 1, the FIA and the three 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 affected promoters and 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. Formula 1 and the FIA expect to begin the 2020 Championship season as soon as it’s safe to do so after May and will continue to regularly monitor the ongoing COVID-19 situation.”
Dutch Grand Prix postponedDutch fans have had to wait 35 years for Formula 1 to return to the Netherlands and they will now have to wait a little longer for racing action at the legendary Zandvoort track. The news comes as no surprise, especially given that the Netherlands’ other big event planned for May 2020 – the Eurovision Song Contest – was also cancelled earlier this week. The Dutch Grand Prix was expected to be a sell-out event, with over one million fans reportedly applying for tickets. It seems likely that the race will be rescheduled to an August date.
Doubts over Spain and Monaco in 2020While the statement says that the sport and promoters will “study the viability of potential alternative dates” for the three races, doing so for Monaco may prove difficult. Automobile Club de Monaco – organisers of the Monaco Grand Prix – said earlier this week that they would continue to prepare for the event in May, despite the “worrying situation” of the global health crisis. The race has appeared on the calendar in every season since 1955. While Formula 1 will not want to lose such a blue ribbon event, Monaco does not pay a sanctioning fee to Formula 1, so the loss of the event would not represent a lost income. The Spanish Grand Prix’s slot on the calendar is also in some doubt. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is on the schedule this year as a result of a last minute one-year deal, largely funded by the Catalan government.
What started as a record-breaking 22 race calendar now stands at fifteen races, should the postponed Grands Prix not be rescheduled. The Chinese Grand Prix was first to be postponed back in February. Last week’s Australian Grand Prix was cancelled just hours before the first scheduled on-track running after a member of the McLaren team tested positive for COVID-19. F1 CEO Chase Carey released a statement earlier this week apologising to fans who had planned to attend the Albert Park race. Last Friday, it was announced that the Bahrain and Vietnam Grands Prix would also be postponed. The Bahrain Grand Prix had previously been expected to go ahead behind closed doors, but was later postponed as the pandemic worsened. Formula 1’s planned fan festival in South Africa has also been postponed. At best, the 2020 Formula 1 season will finally get underway with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June. But even that is in doubt, with some race-going fans reporting that their visas for the race have been annulled.