Formula 1’s 2020 schedule had to be altered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and that included the first cancellation of a race in several seasons.
Even amid the global coronavirus pandemic, Formula 1 had aimed to get the 2020 season underway this past Sunday, March 15 at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit for the Australian Grand Prix. But those plans changed after a McLaren employee tested positive for COVID-19.
The 58-lap race around the 16-turn, 3.296-mile (5.304-kilometer) road course in Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia was not immediately abandoned, and there was thought to be a chance that it would go on but without fans in attendance, even though the teams had agreed that the best decision would be to cancel the event.
As expected, the race did not go on as planned.
Then Formula 1 canceled the next two races on the schedule as well. The 57-lap Bahrain Grand Prix around the 15-turn, 3.363-mile (5.412-kilometer) Bahrain International Circuit road course in Sakhir, Bahrain was already set to run without fans, but it was given the boot as well. It was initially scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 22.
What would have been the inaugural 55-lap Vietnamese Grand Prix around the 23-turn, 3.484-mile (5.607-kilometer) Hanoi Street Circuit temporary street circuit in Nam Từ Liêm, Hanoi, Vietnam was scheduled to be contested on Sunday, April 5, but it, too, was knocked off the calendar.
The season’s fourth race, the 56-lap race around the 16-turn, 3.388-mile (5.452-kilometer) Shanghai International Circuit road course in Jiading, Shanghai, China, had already been axed in February since China was where the outbreak originated; it was scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 19.
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As of now, the season is scheduled to get underway on Sunday, May 3 with the 72-lap Dutch Grand Prix at the 14-turn, 2.642-mile (4.252-kilometer) Circuit Zandvoort road course in Zandvoort, Netherlands, but this could change as well.
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There is still hope that the early-season races that were forced to be abandoned due to this pandemic will be rescheduled, but more than likely, cancellation will end up being the better word for at least some of these events.
When was the last time a Formula 1 race was canceled?
It has been quite a while, but when it was, it was ironically the season opener as well.
Back in 2011, the Bahrain Grand Prix was scheduled to open up the season on Sunday, March 13. However, the race organizers were forced to call it off as a result of anti-government protests that were going on in Bahrain at the time.
This race was initially rescheduled to take place on Sunday, October 30, replacing the inaugural Indian Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit after the World Motor Sport Council voted unanimously to keep the race on the calendar. The Indian Grand Prix was moved to the final race of the season in early December.
However, the Indian Grand Prix ended up taking place as initially planned, as the Formula One Teams Association opposed the rescheduling of the Bahrain Grand Prix, and for the first time since the race was added to the schedule in 2004, it was not contested.
Nobody knows how many races will end up being postponed or canceled on the 2020 Formula 1 schedule, but the clear hope is that racing will begin as soon as possible, specifically that conditions will allow that to be the case.