The start of the Formula One season is set for further delays after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, by request of race organisers.
The street race in Baku was scheduled for June 7 and had originally been viewed as a potential season opener after the first seven races of the season were either postponed or cancelled over the past week.
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A statement from the Baku City Circuit on Monday said the decision is based “entirely on the expert guidance provided to us by the relevant authorities.”
It added: “We will continue to work closely with Formula 1, the FIA and the Government of the Azerbaijan Republic to monitor the situation with a view to announcing a new race date later in the 2020 season.”
The spread of coronavirus means Azerbaijan has chosen to join the list of races postponing its event, leaving the first half of the F1 calendar decimated with the majority of races looking for new dates later in the year. After being postponed last week, organisers of the famous Monaco Grand Prix cancelled this year’s edition of the famous Monte Carlo street race.
The nature of the Baku City Circuit means several weeks of work are required to construct the circuit, which winds around the capital city and runs past UNESCO-protected old city walls. A large part of the circuit is left up throughout the year, minimising the time needed to construct it, but a decision on going ahead was needed in the coming weeks, regardless.
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The next race on the original calendar after Baku is the Canadian Grand Prix on June 14, but that too looks like a candidate for postponement. That would make the French Grand Prix on June 28 a potential starting date, but F1 is not committing to a timeline in public at this stage.
“We recognise everyone wants to know what comes next for Formula One in 2020,” F1 CEO Chase Carey said last week. “We cannot provide specific answers today given the fluidity of the situation.
“However, we plan to get the 2020 Championship season underway as soon as it’s safe to do so. We are engaging with experts and officials on a daily basis as we evaluate how we go forward in the next few months.”