Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to have a major impact on global motorsport following the outbreak of the pandemic infection.
All global sports have been severely affected by coronavirus, with various leagues and matches suspended all over the world. NBA, NHL, global soccer, MLB and tennis have all experienced severe disruptions to regular seasons.
Motorsport is no different. Formula 1’s season opener at the Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled despite teams, fans and media having travelled to Melbourne. McLaren was the first team to withdraw from the event after a team member tested positive for COVID-19.
The new Formula 1 season will suffer severe disruption due to coronavirus. The Chinese Grand Prix was postponed earlier in February after the Chinese government moved to restrict large gatherings of people. The Bahrain Grand Prix (March 22) and first-ever Vietnam Grand Prix (April 5) have also been postponed. Both races are in serious doubt, while Bahrain’s event is already closed to the public. Depending on whether teams and personnel now have to be quarantined, more cancellations could follow.
F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton admitted he was “very, very surprised” teams had travelled to Australia despite the coronavirus outbreak. Hamilton said he was shocked the race was still set to go ahead while other sports were moving to cancel or suspend events.
IMSA announced its Sebring 12 Hours event (March 21) has been postponed until November 14, after travel restrictions were imposed by the U.S. due to coronavirus. The U.S. enforced travel restrictions against 26 European countries - IMSA stated the constraints would prevent some drivers, teams and key personnel from participating. Sebring will now act as the final round of this year’s IMSA SportsCar Championship series.
Coronavirus hits racing series
IMSA’s decision came shortly after the World Endurance Championship announced the cancellation of its 1000 miles of Sebring, due to take place the day before on March 20. The WEC also cited the travel ban in its statement.
Several other series have been hit hard by coronavirus. IndyCar’s 2020 season opener at the Grand Prix of St Petersburg will be held behind closed doors, if at all.
Formula E postponed the Rome E-Prix following the coronavirus crisis in Italy. The Jakarta E-Prix has also been pushed back amid the growing number of cases in Indonesia. The Sanya E-Prix in China was cancelled after the initial outbreak.
And NASCAR’s Homestead Miami race (scheduled for March 22) has fallen victim to the coronavirus, too.
It’s not just competitive racing that coronavirus is affecting. Several big automobile shows have so far been suspended or cancelled, including the Geneva International Motor Show and Vancouver Auto Show.
One thing is certain: Coronavirus will continue to impact motorsport for the foreseeable future. Expect more postponements, more cancellations and more confusion