Written By Joshua Buck (@joshbuckf1)
The week of the highly anticipated first race of the 2020 Formula One season at Albert Park, Australia – set to take place on the 15th March was edging ever closer despite the growing concerns over the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
In the weeks leading up to the opening race, fans across the sporting world were seeing events suspended or called off due to the pandemic. But Formula One did not follow suit, with the FIA reluctant to postpone or cancel the first race of what was set up to be a record breaking year for reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton. The Brit was in line to surpass multiple records of the legendary Michael Schumacher whilst also drawing level on an unprecedented seven World Championships.
On the 12th March, which was meant to be the first practice session of the new year, news came out that McLaren would not participate in the first race of the season after one member of their extensive race crew tested positive for COVID-19. Earlier that same week Ross Brawn, Managing Director of Motorsports and Technical Director released a statement telling fans that if one team pulled out over Coronavirus fears then the race would not go ahead.
Despite this, the race was still set to take place without McLaren’s involvement. 24-hours later, FIA, the governing body of Formula One, and the AGPC (Australian Grand Prix Corporation) announced that the Australian Grand Prix had been cancelled due to the high risk of COVID-19.
The same day that it was announced that the season’s opening race was cancelled, an article was released stating that F1 hoped the season could get underway by the end of May – meaning the first race of the season would be at the Monaco Grand Prix.
This in turn meant that the next three races were postponed – (Bahrain, 20-22 March, Vietnam, 3-5 April and China, 17-19 April). Now six days later it has been disclosed that the following three races will also be postponed – (Netherlands, 1-3 May, Spain, 8-10 May and Monaco, 21-24 May).
A statement released earlier this afternoon read: ‘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’. If F1 were to begin at the end of May the first round would not take place until the seventh of June for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.