Due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus and the cancellation of the Formula E race in Sanya, China, the future of the Chinese GP in April 2020 looks more uncertain than ever despite the fact that the World Health Organisation Director General made clear that there is no need for foreigners to be evacuated. Christian Horner shared his thoughts at a media event in London when motorsport publication Autosport questioned him about this very matter.
The Team Principal of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing was asked if he was comfortable sending his staff to Shanghai for the fourth round of the Formula One 2020 season. In typical Christian Horner style, his answer was humourous and straight to the point:
"At the moment we couldn't send anyone because they couldn't get there [due to flight bans to mainland China]. Look, the FIA is the regulator, the Liberty is promoter. They are responsible for the health and wellbeing of not just the drivers in F1, but all the staff, and all of the travelling members of the media. And I'm sure they'll take the necessary due diligence before making any commitment about either delaying or postponing or cancelling the race. So, we have to trust their judgement and their knowledge.”
There are signs that a decision could be close due to the mention of an upcoming strategy meeting this week as Horner goes on to explain:
"But of course we keep a very close eye on the situation which will be on the agenda on Wednesday's strategy meeting where we will get the next update."
The signs are not promising for the Chinese Grand Prix seeing how the Formula E organisers remained ever confident that their event would go ahead - but on Sunday it was announced that this would not be the case:
The full statement from Formula E read:
"In view of the continued spread of coronavirus and after close consultation with the relevant departments of Hainan Province and Sanya Municipal Government, Formula E - together with the FIA, the Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports of People's Republic of China (CAMF), and regional partner Enova Holdings - have jointly decided not to race in Sanya on the scheduled date of March 21, 2020.
"Given the current growing health concerns and with the World Health Organisation declaring the coronavirus an international emergency, Formula E has taken the necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of its travelling staff, championship participants and spectators, which remains of paramount importance.
"We are working closely with our regional partner and the local authorities in Hainan Province and Sanya Municipal Government, to continue monitoring the situation as it develops.
"All parties will take the appropriate amount of time to study the viability of potential alternative dates should the situation improve."
For the Formula One Grand Prix, should it be moved to later in the year, any prospect of it swapping dates with the Russian Grand Prix, as had been rumoured, has been swiftly countered by a spokesman for the event speaking to Autosport:
"The date for the 2020 Russian GP was set in October last year and isn't changing."
So, all we can do is wait for Wednesday to be able to hear what the latest updates in February bring for and event due to happen in April.
Last year the city of Shanghai was celebrating holding the 1000th Formula One Grand Prix event – what a difference a year makes.