Coronavirus and the motor racing calendar: the races cancelled, postponed or rescheduled

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Formula 1 will not race until June at the earliest, with disruption to the Moto GP, Formula E, WEC and NASCAR calendars too. Here's how motor sport has been hit by coronavirus restrictions

Worker with face mask in front of F1 Vietnamese Grand Prix poster

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Formula 1 has announced that the first grand prix of the season won’t take place until June — at the earliest. The Le Mans 24 Hours has been pushed back to September, and racing calendars around the world are bare for the next few months.

Coronavirus restrictions are cutting a swathe through 2020 championship schedules, with domestic competitions affected as well as international series, including Formula E, MotoGP, the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and NASCAR. All have cancelled multiple events and further disruption is expected as the outbreak continues.

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Most series are no longer aiming to restart racing by a certain date, but monitoring the situation and hoping to cram in as many races as possible between the relaxation of restrictions and the end of the year.

Formula 1 has brought forward its summer shutdown, so more races can be scheduled in August, if possible. WEC will delay the start of next season.

In Britain, Motorsport UK — which governs four-wheeled motor sport in the country — has suspended all event permits until at least the end of June. The British Touring Car Championship is looking to cram in back-to-back races towards the end of the year.

Motor sport’s governing body, the FIA, has set up a “crisis cell” that meets every other day to consider the latest disruptions, and take decisions on race cancellations.

Click to see how coronavirus is affecting each of the major series below or scroll down to view all

Formula 1

Australian GP start Melbourne 2019

Australian GP remains the opening race of the 2020 F1 season

Grand Prix Photo

The Formula 1 season will not now start until mid-June at the earliest, after the postponement or cancellation of the first eight races of the season.

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After the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix, two hours before first practice was due to start — following a confirmed coronavirus case in the McLaren team — F1 has ripped up its calendar.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix was the latest race to be postponed, following on from the Dutch and Spanish Grands Prix, as well as cancellation the Monaco race, which will not run for the first time since 1954.

It means that Canada is due to host the first race of the season on 14 June, but after the country announced it would not be sending athletes to the 2020 Olympic Games, the race is in serious doubt.

F1’s CEO, Chase Carey, provided the most recent update, saying: “We and our partners fully expect the season to start at some point this summer, with a revised calendar of between 15-18 races.

“We will utilise the summer break being brought forward to March/April to race during the normal summer break period, and anticipate the season end date will extend beyond our original end date of 27-29 November, with the actual sequence and schedule dates for races differing significantly from our original 2020 calendar.”

Coronavirus changes to the 2020 Formula 1 calendar – first eight races

Race

Date

Status

Australian Grand Prix 13-15 March Cancelled
Bahrain Grand Prix 20-22 March Postponed (date unknown)
Vietnamese Grand Prix 3-5 April Postponed (date unknown)
Chinese Grand Prix 17-19 April Postponed (date unknown)
Dutch Grand Prix 1-3 May Postponed (date unknown)
Spanish Grand Prix 8-10 May Postponed (date unknown)
Monaco Grand Prix 21-24 May Cancelled
Azerbaijan Grand Prix 5-7 June Postponed (date unknown)
Canadian Grand Prix 12-14 June No change


Formula E

The 2019/20 Formula E season has been suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak the series has announced.

According to the statement released by Formula E, the current target is to get back to racing in June.

“Right now is the time to take responsible actions and this is why we have decided to temporarily suspend the season and move forward with introducing measures to freeze races from taking place over the next two months,” said Formula E chairman, Alejandro Agag.

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“Motorsport plays a major part in our lives and it is important, but what is more important is the health and safety of our staff, fans and their families, as well as citizens in the cities we race.

“The ABB FIA Formula E Championship will be back in full force, once the ongoing health crisis and spread of COVID- 19 has subsided.”

A quarter of Formula E race weekends have already been disrupted due to coronavirus, with the Jakarta ePrix the latest to be postponed under orders of Indonesian officials. The Sanya ePrix in China was cancelled and the Rome ePrix has been postponed.

Formula E is now looking to add stand-in races to the calendar by making some rounds double-headers, adding events on existing circuits or racing behind closed doors.

Coronavirus changes to the 2020 Formula E calendar – March to July

Race

Date

Status

Sanya ePrix 21 March Cancelled
Rome ePrix 4 April Postponed (date unknown)
Paris ePrix 18 April Postponed (date unknown)
Seoul ePrix 3 May Postponed (date unknown)
Jakarta ePrix 6 June Postponed (date unknown)
Berlin ePrix 21 June No change
New York ePrix 11 July No change
London ePrix 25-26 July No change

 

World Endurance Championship

The Le Mans 24 Hours has been moved from June to September, and the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps postponed from April 25 to a date that is not yet known.

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It follows the cancellation of the 1000 Miles of Sebring after America closed its borders to visitors from 26 European countries.

Competitors at Le Mans will now face four more hours of night driving, thanks to the autumn date.

The changes will delay the start of next season and the introduction of the hypercar category, which was due to begin at Silverstone on 5 September.

CEO of WEC Gérard Neveu said that a revised calendar for WEC and other endurance series, including the European Le Mans Series, was being worked on and would be announced shortly.

Coronavirus changes to the 2019/20 WEC calendar (March to September)

Race

Date

Status

1000 Miles of Sebring 20 March Cancelled
6 Hours of Spa 25 April Postponed (date unknown)
Le Mans 24 Hours 13-14 June Postponed to 19-20 September

 

MotoGP

MotoGP was forced to cancel the first premier class race of the season in Qatar and has now rescheduled the following four rounds of its 2020 championship due to the outbreak.

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With the Moto2 and Moto3 teams already present at Qatar’s Losail Circuit for pre-season testing during the first week of March both races went ahead without the top class present on the timetable.

Since then the season-opener has been pushed back further. The race in Thailand has been moved to October from 22 March; the Texas race, due to be held on 5 April, was postponed to November. Argentina was then moved from 19 April to November and now the 3 May Spanish round has been delayed indefinitely.

MotoGP’s first race is now slated for Le Mans on 17 May, though this is looking increasingly unlikely. Also doubtful is the subsequent round at Mugello.

Coronavirus changes to the 2020 MotoGP calendar

Race

Date

Status

Qatar 8 March Cancelled (Moto2 and Moto3 races go ahead)
Spain 3 May Postponed (date unknown)
France 17 May Scheduled but uncertain
Italy 31 May Scheduled but uncertain
Catalunya 7 June No change
Germany 21 June No change
Netherlands 28 June No change
Finland 12 July No change
Czech Republic 9 August No change
Austria 16 August No change
Great Britain 30 August No change
San Marino 13 September No change
Áragon 27 September Moved to accommodate Thailand
Thailand 4 October Rescheduled from March 22
Japan 18 October No change
Australia 25 October No change
Malaysia 1 November No change
Americas 15 November Rescheduled from April 5
Argentina 22 November Rescheduled from April 19
Comunitat Valenciana 29 November Moved to accommodate Americas and Argentina

 

World Rally Championship

The next three WRC rounds have been postponed, following the early end to Rally Mexico in mid-march.

The Mexican event — the third on this season’s calendar — had announced extra precautions to protect spectators and competitors.

Epidemiologists and health workers joined spectators on stages, while drivers and team members from countries worst-affected by coronavirus were checked and monitored.

In the event, the event finished early — on the Saturday evening rather than Sunday afternoon — to ensure that crews could return home, as several countries began imposing travel restrictions and airports closed.

The Argentinian round, scheduled for April, has now been postponed, as has May’s Rally of Portugal, and the Rally Italy, in Sardinia, which would have been held in June.

Coronavirus changes to the 2020 WRC calendar (March to August)

Race

Date

Status

Rally Mexico 12-15 March Finished early
Rally Argentina 23-26 April Postponed (date unknown)
Rally Portugal 21-24 May Postponed (date unknown)
Rally Italy Sardinia 4-7 June Postponed (date unknown)
Safari Rally Kenya 16-19 July No change
Rally Finland 6-9 August No change

 

British Touring Car Championship

Despite early hopes that the domestic racing schedule would be less affected by coronavirus, the BTCC has suspended the season until July at the earliest, following the decision by Motorsport UK, which manages four-wheeled national racing, to withdraw permission for events until then.

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Snetterton now sits as the season-opener on 25-26 July, but the series is preparing a revised calendar that could be unrecognisable from the original 2020 plan.

“If it is July [that racing resumes], that will still give us plenty of latitude,” Alan Gow, the BTCC boss told Motor Sport, before the latest suspension was announced. “We are all going to have a busy second part of the year. We’ll have to be creative and there will be a lot of back-to-back weekends, but the teams are up for it.”

Gow said that the series was unlikely to run behind closed doors to prevent mass gatherings because the number of people required to run the race weekend was already so large: marshals, team members and other essential staff add up to more than 1,000 individuals per weekend.

Coronavirus changes to the 2020 BTCC calendar (March to July)

Race Date Status
Donington Park 28-29 March Postponed (date unknown)
Brands Hatch 11-12 April Postponed (date unknown)
Silverstone 25-26 April Postponed (date unknown)
Thruxton 16-17 May Postponed (date unknown)
Oulton Park 13-14 June Postponed (date unknown)
Snetterton 25-26 July No change

 

IndyCar

Indianapolis will host IndyCar’s season opener, as it stands, after racing was stopped for the first four rounds of the season.

The next race set to take place is the Indy GP on May 9, two weeks ahead of the Indy 500. It is scheduled at the end of an eight week period in which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised that events attracting more than 50 people should be cancelled.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway said: “This continues to be a dynamic situation which we are monitoring constantly… We are planning for all contingencies.”

IndyCar had hoped to run the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg with no fans in attendance, but the evolving coronavirus situation meant that a safety call was made to postpone the race, along with the three subsequent rounds in April.

The Long Beach race, scheduled for 19 April, has now been cancelled, after organisers said that rearranging the street circuit race was not feasible this year.

Coronavirus changes to the 2020 Indycar calendar — March to May

Race

Date

Status

St Petersburg 15 March Postponed (date unknown)
Barber Motorsports Park 5 April Postponed (date unknown)
Long Beach 19 April Cancelled
Circuit of the Americas 26 April Postponed (date unknown)
Indianapolis Road Course 9 May No change
Indianapolis 500 24 May No change
Detroit 30-31 May No change

NASCAR

NASCAR is the latest series to postpone its racing season, with the calendar pushed back until May. Races had been planned to take place at both Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami, but even closed door events are no longer possible.

The next race in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season is scheduled to take place at Martinsville at the beginning of May.

“The health and safety of our fans, industry and the communities in which we race is our most important priority, so in accordance with recent CDC guidance, NASCAR is currently postponing all race events through May 3rd, with plans to return racing in Martinsville,” a new NASCAR statement said.

“We appreciate the patience of our fans and we look forward to returning to the race track. We intend to hold all 36 races this season, with future rescheduling soon to be determined as we continue to monitor this situation closely with public health officials and medical experts.

“What is important now transcends the world of sports and our focus is on everyone’s safety and well-being as we navigate this challenging time together.”

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