The June 14 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal joined a growing list of Formula 1 races postponed due to the new coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, with the 2020 season yet to get on the starting grid.
The race is the ninth to be affected by the virus, with the March 15 season-opening Australian Grand Prix cancelled along with May’s showcase Monaco Grand Prix.
The Liberty-Media owned global championship is hoping to get underway in the European summer with a reduced and greatly rearranged schedule of between 15 and 18 races that could run into the New Year.
“At the moment it is crucial that all of our energies be put together to overcome COVID-19. We will welcome you with open arms at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Canadian Grand Prix CEO Francois Dumontier.
The race is promoted by Octane Racing Group and organisers said the decision to postpone it, after regular discussions with city authorities and Formula One, was not taken lightly or easily.
“We have heard the directives issued by public health officials and as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic are following the expert guidance provided by the authorities,” added the organisers.
Almost half the COVID-19 cases in Canada are in the province of Quebec, of which Montreal is the largest city, where premier Francois Legault said on Sunday he hoped to see new diagnoses peak in a number of weeks.
He also told reporters he was extending a shutdown of non-essential businesses for another three weeks to May 4.
F1 chairman Chase Carey said Formula 1 supported the “necessary decision to ensure the safety of fans and the F1 community.
“We always look forward to travelling to the incredible city of Montreal and while we will all have to wait a bit longer, we will put on a great show when we arrive later this year,” he added.
Organisers said tickets would continue to be valid and spectators would be informed of their options when a new date was decided.
Canada will have two drivers this season with Nicholas Latifi a rookie at Williams while Lance Stroll continues at Racing Point, a team owned by his father Lawrence.
“Naturally, I’m sad that I’ll have to wait for the chance to race at my home F1 event,” said Latifi on his website.
“Since I’ve been competing, my ambition has been to represent my country at the highest level. And I’ve been looking forward to June’s race in Montreal ever since I was announced as a driver with Williams.
“But as action to control the spread of the virus stepped up, and other Montreal festivals were delayed or cancelled, today’s news was inevitable, I guess.”
Formula One now has to try to reschedule races in Bahrain, Vietnam, China, Azerbaijan, the Netherlands and Spain as well as Canada with France, Austria and Britain looking likely to join the list.
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone has set an April deadline to decide whether it can go ahead.
Canadian Grand Prix organiser’s press release:
Francois Dumontier, President and CEO Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix: “We would have been honoured to host the first race on the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship calendar, but we are saddened to have to announce the postponement of the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix 2020 scheduled for June 12-13-14 2020.
“This postponement was not a decision that was taken lightly or easily. Over the past month, we have been in constant communication with Formula 1 and representatives from the city of Montréal, Tourism Montreal and both provincial and federal governments. We have heard the directives issued by public health officials and as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic are following the expert guidance provided by the authorities.
“Our thoughts and most sincere thanks go to the men and women working tirelessly to keep us healthy, safe and fed during these uncertain times.
“I am proud to see how such wonderful initiatives and technical advancements stemming from Formula 1 are being applied in a time of crisis. At the moment it is crucial that all of our energies be put together to overcome COVID-19. We will welcome you with open arms at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve as soon as it is safe to do so.’
“To our ticket holders, please be assured that all tickets for the Canadian Grand Prix 2020 will continue to be valid. As soon as the new date of the Grand Prix is confirmed, all spectators will be informed of the available options, both for those who have purchased their tickets through the GPCanada’s website (www.gpcanada.ca) and through other channels.”
Chase Carey, Chairman and CEO of Formula 1: “We have been working closely with our friends at the Canadian Grand Prix over the past few weeks and support them in taking this necessary decision to ensure the safety of fans and the F1 community. We always look forward to travelling to the incredible city of Montreal and while we will all have to wait a bit longer, we will put on a great show when we arrive later this year.”