Chinese GP postponement 'likely' amid Coronavirus fears
Chinese GP currently scheduled for April 19 but in severe doubt
Last Updated: 12/02/20 12:21pm
There is a "significant chance" Formula 1's Chinese Grand Prix will be postponed as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, according to the sport's chief executive Chase Carey.
The Shanghai race is currently scheduled for April 19, but now appears likely to become the latest sporting event to be delayed by the health crisis.
As of Wednesday, there had been more than 40,000 confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, with the death-toll having passed 1,100.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with everybody affected in China and we recognise the importance of this," Carey told Sky Sports News.
"We recognise this certainly creates uncertainty about the ability to host an event in China.
"We'll wait for further guidance from there but we certainly recognise there's a significant chance, if not likelihood, the event will be postponed."
Several sporting events in China have already been cancelled or postponed due to the virus, including the World Athletics Indoor Championships, which were scheduled to take place in March in Nanjing.
It would be the first time since 2011 that a race has been postponed, with the Bahrain Grand Prix delayed by the Arab Spring uprisings nine years ago.
Carey played down suggestions that the sport's authorities would have to consider cancelling Grand Prix's elsewhere, with smaller outbreaks of the virus having reached Europe.
"The hope is that people will have a better handle on this pretty quickly," Carey said. "It emerged quite quickly, the cases outside China, really the district in China, are still limited in number.
"We're very aware of it and we will continue to monitor it and deal accordingly. Obviously safety for our fans and our teams, everybody in the sport, is first and foremost.
"So we'll be thoughtful and thorough and we are continuing to monitor and engage with the appropriate authorities and appropriate experts."
As for when the race could be rescheduled for, Carey admitted it will be a challenge to find a space in F1 calendar, which includes 22 races (including the Chinese Grand Prix) between March and November.
"Part of the challenge is that you don't really know the time-frame, so it's difficult to say what time works," Carey said. "Clearly we have a busy calendar so it's not easy to reschedule this late when we're only a month away from our first race.
"China's a very important partner. We've been excited by the growth in that partnership.
"But again we recognise what is first and foremost important. We'll work with our Chinese partners to try and see, when we know more, what options might exist."