Coronavirus: when will motorsport resume in 2020?

Coronavirus: when will motorsport resume in 2020?

Coronavirus has caused sporting events around the world to be postponed and cancelled, with Formula 1, Formula E and MotoGP among them.

Other series have also paused races in response to coronavirus, as large public gatherings will inevitably increase the risk of transmission between hosts.

As situations react to the ever-changing effect that the COVID-19 virus will inevitably have over the motorsport world, this story will be updated with cancellations and postponements should any more be forthcoming.

When will the 2020 Formula 1 season begin?

At this stage, it is currently unknown when the definitive first race of the 2020 F1 season will be.

As the coronavirus outbreak is commonly regarded to have originated in the city of Wuhan, the Chinese Grand Prix was swiftly postponed in the interests of public health.

The Australian Grand Prix was cancelled on the Friday of its race weekend, after a McLaren team member had tested positive for coronavirus.

Seven further members of the F1 paddock were also tested, but their results were found to be negative.

Australian Grand Prix Commission chairman Andrew Westacott has suggested that, despite the official cancellation, the race could be rescheduled for later in the year.

The Bahrain and Vietnam Grands Prix were also postponed in the wake of the escalating coronavirus pandemic, and the Dutch, Spanish and Monaco GPs were also put on hold the following week.

This means that the season would open no earlier than June with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku, one week before the field goes to Montreal for its Canadian round.

Confirmed postponements:

Australian Grand Prix – Albert Park – March 15
Bahrain Grand Prix – Sakhir – March 22
Vietnam Grand Prix – Hanoi – April 5
Chinese Grand Prix – Shanghai – April 19
Dutch Grand Prix – Zandvoort – May 3
Spanish Grand Prix – Barcelona – May 10
Monaco Grand Prix – Monte-Carlo – May 24

These postponements also affect the Formula 2 and Formula 3 championships, which are on F1’s support bill. Bahrain was due to be the first round for both categories, but F2 will also begin no sooner than June’s Baku round.

F3, however, may not even begin until July, with the current first round scheduled to be on the Austrian Grand Prix weekend.

When will the 2020 MotoGP season begin?

Dorna Sports and the FIM have arguably been the most proactive motorsport bodies during this difficult period, with constant communication flowing out of both camps as to MotoGP’s current situation.

A week before the Qatar season opener, tightened quarantine restrictions on Italian travellers – which is a vast majority of the paddock – led Dorna no choice but to scrap the Qatar race – despite its hopes to get all needed to start the race into the country on a charter flight from Nice.

As more countries reacted to COVID-19, MotoGP’s second, third and fourth rounds in Thailand, America and Argentina were all postponed.

MotoGP has already found slots for these races, except Qatar, which won’t appear this year owing to the Losail circuit undergoing essential track works in the coming months.

The back-end of the calendar is now incredibly congested as a result, with eight races in 10 weeks. There is a risk this could put too much strain on the paddock.

The season is now due to start on May 3 in Spain at Jerez – though this is very much open to being changed, with various regions in Spain now under quarantine.

Dorna and the FIM hope to run all 19 remaining races, and is willing to run the season into January if needed, while two-race weekends and races at back-up venues also under consideration.

While chaos reigned in F1, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta and FIM president Jorge Viegas both released Q&A’s over the last 48 hours updating the world on its current plans.

Updated 2020 MotoGP Calendar:

Spanish Grand Prix – May 3
French Grand Prix – May 17
Italian Grand Prix – May 31
Catalan Grand Prix – June 7
German Grand Prix – June 21
Dutch TT – June 28
Finnish Grand Prix – July 12
Czech Grand Prix – August 9
Austrian Grand Prix – August 16
British Grand Prix – August 30
San Marino Grand Prix – September 13
Aragon Grand Prix – September 27
Thailand Grand Prix – October 4
Japanese Grand Prix – October 18
Australian Grand Prix – October 25
Malaysian Grand Prix – November 1
Americas Grand Prix – November 15
Argentine Grand Prix – November 22
Valencia Grand Prix – November 29

When will the 2019-20 Formula E season resume?

As it stands, the Formula E season has been paused for two months amid the ensuring coronavirus crisis.

The Sanya E-Prix was first to be postponed at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, followed by the Rome E-Prix after the spread intensified dramatically in northern Italy – meaning the country is on lockdown.

After Formula E’s latest annoucement, the race in Paris, along with calendar newcomers Seoul and Jakarta, have also been postponed until further notice.

The next E-Prix is scheduled to be the race at Berlin’s Tempelhof airport, but the series is monitoring the situation should any further rounds need to be cancelled.

Confirmed postponements:

Sanya E-Prix – China – March 21 – postponed
Rome E-Prix – Italy – April 4 – postponed
Paris E-Prix – France – April 18 – postponed
Seoul E-Prix – South Korea – May 3 – postponed
Jakarta E-Prix – Indonesia – June 6 – postponed

When will the 2019-20 World Endurance Championship season resume?

Following the cancellation of the Sebring 1000 Miles and the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps races, the World Endurance Championship has just one event left on the calendar: the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

With the Spa round pencilled in for the end of April, it was cancelled given Belgium’s emergency measures to contain the coronavirus spread.

In those measures, all large gatherings must be postponed, while public places like bars, cafes and restaurants must be closed until April 3.

It is unknown whether those measures will continue beyond that point, but WEC CEO Gerard Neveu said that the decision “was the only responsible option to be taken at this time.”

The first two European Le Mans Series rounds at Barcelona and Monza have also been cancelled, with the series set to commence at Paul Ricard on July 19, pending further adjustments to the schedule.

Although the Le Mans event is not until mid-June, the ACO will be expected to make a call on whether it is postponed depending on the current health crisis’ escalation.

When will the World Rally Championship resume?

The World Rally Championship has so far gone off without any interference from Coronavirus, with its opening Monte Carlo event in January, February’s Rally Sweden and this weekend’s Rally Mexico coming just at the right time – though six-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier has objected to competing in Mexico given the events unfolding around the world.

However, WRC couldn’t escape the coronavirus-forced cancellations forever, as the final day of Rally Mexico was stopped to help people working in the paddock return home prior to travel restrictions.

The fifth round in Argentina originally slated for the end of April was also put on hold after the country put a temporary ban on international sporting events.

With next month’s WRC round in Chile cancelled due to social and political unrest in the country, the series is now looking at a layoff of over two months following the conclusion of the Mexico event.

All being well, the season should pick up again Portugal on May 21-24.

Confirmed postponements:

Rally Argentina – April 30-May 1

Elsewhere in the rallying world, next month’s World Rallycross season-opener in Barcelona has been postponed. It is unclear if the Portugal event, following a fortnight later will suffer the same fate. The Titans Rallycross Europe series season is also on hold, and won’t make a planned trip to Canada this year in order to free up space for postponed rounds.

What is happening with NASCAR?

NASCAR tried desperately to continue its current season as planned by staging this weekend’s Atlanta race and next weekend’s Homestead-Miami event behind closed doors.

But, as the United States government finally declared COVID-19 a national emergency, these plans have been scuppered. It has since decided to postpone all races through to 3 May.

NASCAR’s flagship Cup Series is scheduled to conclude on the weekend of November 8 with its play-offs finale at Phoenix.

Confirmed postponements:

Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 – Atlanta Motor Speedway – March 15
Dixie Vodka 400 –
Homestead-Miami Speedway – March 22
O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 –
Texas Motor Speedway – March 29
Ford City 500 –
Bristol Motor Speedway – April 5
Toyota Owners 400 –
Richmond Raceway – April 19
Geico 500 –
Talladega Superspeedway – April 26
NASCAR Cup Series Rac at Dover –
Dover Interntaional Speedway – May 3

When will IndyCar resume?

The 2020 IndyCar season won’t be getting underway until at least May, after the series called off its first four events in St Petersburg, Barber Motorsport Park in Alabama, Long Beach and the Circuit of the Americas.

There was hope the season-opening round this weekend in St Petersburg would get underway, after it was initially announced that it would take place behind closed doors, while track action for IndyCar would be restricted to just Saturday and Sunday.

Series boss Mark Miles hopes to begin the campaign at Indianapolis on May 9, with the 104th Indy 500 following two weeks later. Miles stated that the series is “absolutely focused on May” to be ready with a “normal schedule”.

Confirmed cancellations:

St. Petersburg, Florida – March 15
Barber Motorsport Park, Birmingham, Alabama – April 5
Long Beach, California – April 19
Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas – April 26

How will coronavirus affect other international events?

Although DTM has made no changes to its race calendar thus far, it has cancelled the pre-season test expected to take place from March 16-19 at Hockenheim.

Originally set to take place in Monza, the test was moved to Germany as Italy faced a nationwide lockdown, and would not be open to spectators.

The World Touring Car Cup has cancelled its opening round at the Hungaroring, due to take place on the April 24-26, as Hungarian government measures banned gatherings of more than 500 people until further notice.

In Japan, the Super Formula season opener due to take place at Suzuka on 4 April was also postponed, as was the second round at Fuji, while the SUPER GT series organisers have had to postpone the season opener on April 11-12 at Okayama.

Both major international motorcycle road races – the Isle of Man TT and the North West 200 in Northern Ireland – have been cancelled.

It is the first time since 2001 – during the foot and mouth disease outbreak – that the TT and NW200 will not go ahead.

Although NW200 organisers issued an update last week insisting that the race would go ahead, the worsening coronavirus situation has prompted a rethink.

Supercars was another category directly affected by the Australian GP cancellation, with the Albert Park circuit supposed to have hosted the second points-paying round of the season.

Unlike Formula 1 there had even been competitive track action, Triple Eight drivers Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup securing two of the four pole positions that were to be on offer.

However, all further rounds have been postponed until June, when the series hopes to start running again.

Has the British Touring Car Championship been cancelled?

During the British Touring Car Championship media day at Silverstone – from which spectators were banned following the latest government directive advising against ‘non-essential social contact’ – series organiser TOCA released a statement on Tuesday confirming that it would postpone its first three rounds of the season.

The season was slated to get underway at Donington Park on March 28-29, but this meeting and subsequent rounds at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on April 11-12 and Silverstone National Circuit on April 25-26 have all lost their place on the calendar.

TOCA will attempt to reschedule them for later in the season to bring the calendar back up to its intended 10 events and 30 races.

Like Formula 1, the BTCC has a summer break, in its case from mid June to late July, while there is a further four-week gap free of racing prior to the penultimate round at the end of September.

The season is now scheduled to kick off at Thruxton over the weekend of 16-17 May.

How will coronavirus affect national racing?

Shortly after TOCA’s announcement, Motorsport UK followed suit with its communication that no events sanctioned by the UK governing body would take place until May.

The club circuit racing season was due to begin with two events at Silverstone this weekend but governing body Motorsport UK says these, and all events for the rest of March and April, will no longer take place as planned.

Motorsport UK has been in direct contact with the UK government in recent days about the impact of the escalating health crisis on running motorsport events, and the decision follows the latest government directive that includes social-distancing measures and discourages all but essential travel.

Jonathan Palmer’s MotorSport Vision, which operates a number of circuits within the UK, has ensured that tickets bought for any postponed events will also be available for the rescheduled dates.

British GT championship manager Lauren Granville told Autosport that the SRO-run series is looking into alternative dates for its first two rounds, the Easter Monday weekend at Oulton Park on April 11/13 as well as the Snetterton round in May.

“Ultimately, we fully expect this year’s season to feature seven rounds, as per the current calendar,” she said.

The British Rally Championship had already cancelled its Tendring and Clacton round on April 25-26, which takes place on public roads.

Published at Thu, 19 Mar 2020 15:28:41 +0000

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