Formula 1 postponements: What happens next?
With the news that Formula One has postponed the Dutch, Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix over the coronavirus pandemic, attention will now turn to what happens next for the sport.
The Australian Grand Prix was the first race to fall victim to the pandemic when organisers pulled the plug at the eleventh hour after a member of the McLaren team tested positive, and the Bahrain and Vietnam events followed soon after.
That leaves the question of how the sport will respond, as F1 joins the dozens of sports around the world to have had their calendars decimated by the coronavirus disruption. Authorities confirmed later on Thursday that the Monaco Grand Prix will not now take place, with the event being cancelled rather than simply postponed.
As of 16 March just two active F1 participants had been tested positive for the virus, but it is fear of the onward spread that has caused hesitancy and caution and has led organisers to re-think events.
What happens now?
F1 is considering abandoning the traditional summer break in August to attempt to reschedule races that have been postponed, subject to health considerations.
F1’s chief executive Chase Carey said following confirmation that the Australian Grand Prix would be postponed last week. “We just have to continue doing what we’re doing, reaching out to everybody, every expert, we can around the world.
" Clearly we’re a global sport. And therefore, you know, we’re not just dealing with a single country issue, we’re dealing with an array of complexities. We have to continue to deal with those as the situation evolves."
When will the season now begin?
As it stands, the Azerbaijani Grand Prix in Baku on 7 June will be the first race of the season. The Caspian Sea state has so far recorded 44 confirmed cases of coronavirus, though as with the rest of Europe that figure is expected to rise sharply.
When will the suspended races be staged?
The Monaco race will now not happen at all, with authorities confirming it will be the first time since 1954 that F! will not race in the principality. Monaco is the only F1 host that doesn't pay the authorities a staging fee, meaning the organisation won't miss out on any income.
The authorities are yet to give an indication on re-arranged dates for the other races that have been missed, though much depends on the continued spread of the virus and how quickly the public health situation can be brought under control.
Formula 1 and the FIA say they will continue to work closely with the race promoters in the affected countries to monitor the situation and study the viability of potential alternative dates for those races that have been postponed.
When the Chinese Grand Prix was postponed all parties said they would study the viability of potential alternative dates for the Grand Prix later in the year “should the situation improve”.
FIA president Jean Todt said last week: "We continue to rely on the input and advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and governments and will work with them throughout this unpredictable period to safeguard the fans, competitors and all of the motor sport community.”