Picture: REUTERS/LASZLO BALOGH
Picture: REUTERS/LASZLO BALOGH

Formula One postponed its May showcase Monaco Grand Prix, along with Dutch and Spanish races, on Thursday as the coronavirus outbreak pushed the 2020 season start back to June at the earliest.

A joint statement by Formula One and the governing FIA said they expected the season to start “as soon as it is safe to do so after May”.

Monaco, a glamour highlight of the motor racing calendar, was scheduled for May 24. The Dutch Grand Prix, making its Formula One return for the first time in 35 years, had been due at Zandvoort on May 3 with the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on May 10.

The statement said the postponement had been agreed with race promoters “to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains our primary concern”.

It added: “The FIA and Formula One 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.”

The March 15 season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne had already been cancelled and the three races after that — in Bahrain, Vietnam and China — have also been postponed, with no dates set for rescheduling.

Formula One cancelled its August break on Wednesday, bringing it forward to March and April. It plans to cram the European summer and second half of the year with as many races as possible.

The first race in June is the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku on June 7.

Reuters