By Alexis Sherwin
Not even the 200 mph speeds of Formula One cars can outrun the coronavirus pandemic. Sporting events across the globe are being postponed and cancelled because of the coronavirus. Formula One was added to the long list of sports impacted by the virus along with the MLB, NHL, NCAA, NBA, PGA, and many others.
The F1 2020 season was set to begin with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 15th. The decision was made on March 12th to postpone the race due to COVID-19 concerns.
Many media outlets stated the race was cancelled. That is incorrect. The race is postponed, but a new date has not yet been set.
The Chinese Grand Prix scheduled for April 15th had previously been postponed in February. The Shanghai circuit is just 500 miles from Wuhan, where the outbreak began.
The Australian cancellation was prompted by a positive COVID-19 test result of a McLaren team member. McLaren withdrew immediately from the race after the positive test and within 12 hours the whole race was postponed.
A staff member from the tyre manufacturer, Pirelli, has also tested positive.
Formula One, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), and Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) made the joint decision.
The Grands Prix in Bahrain, Vietnam, Holland, Spain, Monaco, and Azerbaijan have been postponed as well.
“While at present no-one can be certain of exactly when the situation will improve, it will improve and when it does, we will be ready to go racing again. We are all committed to bringing our fans a 2020 Championship Season,” said F1 CEO, Chase Carey.
With several postponements and no rescheduled dates, there is concern of whether the 2020 season will qualify as a world championship. A season must include at least eight races to be considered a championship. On average, championships consist of 19 races. The maximum number of races is 20.
The cancellation was a big disappointment for fans who have been looking forward to the season for months. The uncertainty of when the season will commence is frustrating for fans.
It was also a very costly cancelation because the decision was made only three days before the race. Race-hosting fees and broadcast rights are major income sources for the sport. Both will be reduced due to the pandemic.
The teams had already arrived and began set up in Melbourne. The equipment arrived by sea freight weeks prior.
Hosting Grands Prix costs millions of dollars. The Australian circuit promised to refund all the tickets. The average cost of a three-day F1 ticket is $160.
The question now is, who pays the bill? Australian taxpayers may be footed the bill. However, some circuits have a policy that puts the liability on whoever cancels the race. It has not yet been made clear how the bill will be settled.
Formula One is a popular motor sport with a fanbase that spans the globe. The top markets by cumulative fan base are Brazil, Germany, and Italy. There are 10 teams competing in the 2020 season. Prominent teams include Mercedes, Red Bull Racing, and Ferrari.
Teams and drivers earn points each race of the season. Mercedes has been the top team since the 2014 season. Mercedes’s driver Lewis Hamilton from Great Britain has been the top driver since 2017.