CORON­AVIRUS FORCES POST­PONE­MENT OF BAKU F1 RACE

Pretoria News - - SPORT -

AZER­BAI­JAN post­poned its June 7 For­mula One Grand Prix on Mon­day, leav­ing the stalled se­ries with a ma­jor reschedul­ing headache after can­celling or call­ing off the sea­son’s first eight races.

What would have been a record 22 round sea­son has al­ready lost two of its fix­tures, in­clud­ing May’s show­case Monaco Grand Prix which will not fea­ture in the cham­pi­onship for the first time since 1954.

The March 15 opener in Aus­tralia has also been can­celled while Bahrain, Viet­nam, China, the Nether­lands and Spain are post­poned with no al­ter­na­tive dates pro­posed as yet and more races in doubt.

Or­gan­is­ers of the race in Baku said in a state­ment the de­ci­sion to post­pone was “a di­rect re­sult of the on­go­ing global COVID-19 pan­demic and has been based en­tirely on the expert guid­ance pro­vided to us by the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties.

“In com­ing to this con­clu­sion, BCC (Baku City Cir­cuit)’s pri­mary con­cern through­out has been the health and well-be­ing of the Azer­bai­jani peo­ple as well as all vis­it­ing F1 fans, staff and cham­pi­onship par­tic­i­pants.”

Or­gan­is­ers said they hoped to be able to an­nounce a new race date and all tick­ets would con­tinue to be valid.

Prepa­ra­tion of the street cir­cuit, which re­quires the in­stal­la­tion of ex­ten­sive safety fenc­ing and bar­ri­ers as well as the seal­ing of drain cov­ers and as­phalt­ing, would have had to start soon. The track has long, fast straights and a twist­ing stretch around the old town.

The crowd is usu­ally small, with some 18,000 grand­stand seats plus another 2,000 for hos­pi­tal­ity and VIP and up to 15,000 gen­eral ad­mis­sion tick­ets avail­able, but the race has been one of the more en­ter­tain­ing and un­pre­dictable.

The next race that re­mains on is the Cana­dian Grand Prix in Mon­treal on June 14 but that also looks un­cer­tain due to the pan­demic, as does France on June 28. | Reuters

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