PARIS: The iconic Monaco Formula One Grand Prix, a glittering fixture on the world motorsport calendar for 65 years, was cancelled Thursday, the latest event to fall victim to the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The race, due to be held in the Principality on May 24, was axed completely while the Grand Prix in the Netherlands and Spain were postponed.
“The situation is no longer tenable,” said a statement by the Automobile Club de Monaco.
“After careful consideration as to the gravity of this crisis worldwide, it is with great sadness that the board of directors has taken this decision.”
It will be the first time since 1954 that there has not been a Monaco Grand Prix, part of motor racing’s fabled ‘Triple Crown’ which also includes the Le Mans 24 Hour Race and Indy 500.
Winners of the celebrated race, which winds its way around the well-heeled streets of the millionaires’ playground on the Riviera, include legends such as Ayrton Senna, a six-time champion, and Michael Schumacher, victorious on five occasions.
Lewis Hamilton won in Monaco in 2019 on his way to a sixth world title.
The binning of the Monaco race and postponements in the Netherlands and Spain follow the cancellation of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix last week, and the postponement of the Chinese, Bahrain and Vietnam Grand Prix races.
The Dutch GP, due to return to the calendar for the first time since 1985, was set to be held at Zandvoort on May 3, with the Spanish race following a week later.
“Due to the ongoing and fluid nature of the Covid-19 situation globally, the FIA, Formula One and the three promoters have taken these decisions in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains our primary concern,” a joint statement from F1 and the FIA read.
The Dutch and Spanish organisers will study the viability of finding alternative dates to run their races later in the year.
Formula 1 and the FIA expect to be able to begin the 2020 season “as soon as it’s safe to do so after May,” but will continue to monitor the situation.
The earliest the new season can now start is on June 7 in Azerbaijan.
Thursday’s announcement came just a day after the Le Mans 24 Hour Race, scheduled for June, was pushed back until September.
In motorcycling, the season-opening Qatar MotoGP was axed while the Thai race was rescheduled to October.
The United States MotoGP has also been moved from April to November leaving the season to start in Argentina on April 19.
2022 for new regulations
Meanwhile, the FIA also said on Thursday the introduction of new technical regulations, due to take effect in the 2021 F1 season, will be postponed until 2022.
“All parties (FIA, Formula 1 and teams) discussed the current situation of the 2020 championship and how the sport will react to the ongoing challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said an FIA statement.
“Due to the currently volatile financial situation this has created, it has been agreed that teams will use their 2020 chassis for 2021, with the potential freezing of further components to be discussed in due course.
“The introduction and implementation of the financial regulations will go ahead as planned in 2021, and discussions remain ongoing between the FIA, Formula 1 and all teams regarding further ways to make significant cost savings.
In October last year, FIA president Jean Todt said the new regulations would mean “F1 will be less complex and easier to understand” while making the sport “more durable and safer”.
The planned spending cap will limit teams to US$175 million per year.
Currently, the giants of the paddock, Mercedes and Ferrari, have an annual budget of around US$500 million.
The sporting calendar has been turned upside down by the coronavirus outbreak, which has 217,510 cases with 9,020 deaths across 157 countries and territories as of 1100 GMT Thursday.
The European football championships and Copa America have been both pushed back by 12 months to 2021.
In tennis, the French Open has controversially been rescheduled to September/October while golf has shelved its opening two Majors of 2020 – The Masters and USPGA Championship.
However, the International Olympic Committee have so far pledged to carry on with the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to run between July 24-August 9.
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