The COVID-19 outbreak has thrown the sporting world into disarray, with motorsport schedules being tweaked left, right and centre.
In a bid to contain the outbreak, governments worldwide continue to bring in new measures in order to flatten the curve.
Several motorsport events have been postponed, with other cancelled. Nearly all domestic and global championships have been delayed, with some yet to commence at all such as Formula 1 and MotoGP.
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It is all to prevent a worse outcome from a virus which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has labelled a pandemic. To date there are over 200,000 confirmed cases of the virus globally, which has resulted in over 8000 deaths.
On home soil, Supercars managed to commence it 2020 season at the Superloop Adelaide 500, but its program on the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix undercard was cancelled. On Wednesday, it was announced the Tasmania, New Zealand and Perth events have been postponed and will likely be rescheduled.
Formula 1’s season start is set to wait until “the end of May” with Australia cancelled, and three further races – Bahrain, China and Vietnam – postponed. Subsequent races in the Netherlands, Spain and Monaco are also likely to be postponed.
MotoGP’s season start is also set to wait until May, with the Qatar race cancelled. Thailand, USA and Argentina have also been postponed. Races have been moved to the back-end of the year, with an exhausting schedule set with eight races in the final 10 weeks.
As the crisis developed mid-March, several more high-profile events were either postponed or cancelled, including the opening four races of the IndyCar season (cancelled), the Isle of Man TT (cancelled), NASCAR rounds in Atlanta and Miami (postponed). Other events got ahead of the drama, with Formula E abandoning its Sanya race. Races in Jakarta and Rome were also canned.
Here is a timeline of motorsport events to have been cancelled or postponed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
February 2: The first major motorsport event to be affected by the outbreak was Formula E’s Sanya race in China, which was due to be held on March 21.
February 12: Formula 1 was next to make a big move, with Shanghai’s Chinese Grand Prix officially postponed. F1 chiefs have kept ambitions to reschedule the race towards the end of the 2020 season.
February 26: The maiden Vietnamese Grand Prix, to be held in April, saw Formula Renault Asiacup benched in a bid to ease the weekend schedule.
February 27: A March 16-18 pre-season test for German touring car series DTM was relocated from Italy to Germany in response to the spread of COVID-19 in northern Italy.
March 1: Things ramped up once March commenced, with MotoGP cancelling premier class running at the season-opening Qatar event. The same day, the Thailand race was postponed and moved to the back-end of the season.
March 2: The Thai government announced the country’s planned MotoGP race had been postponed, which was later confirmed by the sport. Across to Japan, the Super Formula season-opener at Suzuka (April 5) was postponed.
March 3: World Superbikes also postponed its Qatar round, which was set to take place at the Local circuit across March 13-15. Organisers are targeting a rescheduled event for late October.
March 6 – Formula E postponed its Rome race, which was set for April 4.
March 8: The Bahrain Grand Prix was closed to spectators in a measure taken to avoid the spread of the virus. The event was still ready to go ahead, which doubled as the season-opener for F2 and F3.
March 10: MotoGP postponed its third race at the Circuit of the Americas, with the race moved from April to November.
March 11: World Superbikes postponed its Jerez round on March 29 to October 25. MotoGP tweaked its calendar again as it postponed Argentina from April 17 to November 22. It meant the Jerez round across May 1-3 will be MotoGP’s season-opener. Formula E also postponed its third race, the inaugural Jakarta E-Prix in Indonesia.
March 12: IndyCar closed its opening round at St Petersburg to the public, with its Long Beach round also postponed. IMSA also postponed the Sebring 12 Hours until November, while the World Endurance Championship cancelled its Sebring 1000 event. However, the biggest news was reserved for happenings at Albert Park once a McLaren team member tested positive for the virus. The team withdrew from the event.
March 13: Albert Park was the centre of attention when the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix was officially cancelled, with the Melbourne race the second to be affected by the virus after China. The Bahrain and Vietnam races were later postponed. As it stands, the Dutch Grand Prix (May 1-3) will host the opening round of the 2020 season.
IndyCar then cancelled its opening four rounds (St Petersburg, Barber, COTA and Long Beach), while NASCAR postponed its next two rounds at Atlanta (March 15) and Homestead (March 22). Formula E made the unprecedented call to suspend the season for two months. The next round is the Berlin E-Prix on June 21.
March 16: The WEC postponed the 6 Hours of Spa from its April 25 date, which was supposed to be the penultimate round of the 2019-20 season. The iconic Isle of Man TT event was cancelled for the first time since 2001.
March 17: The start to the new British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) season was delayed, with three events postponed.
March 18: Supercars confirmed the next three events in Tasmania, New Zealand and Perth events had been postponed and will likely be rescheduled. The WEC also postponed the Le Mans 24 Hours to September, with the event initially doubling as the 2019-20 WEC season finale. It will delay the start of the 2020-21 WEC season.
March 19: Formula 1 announced it will bring forward the August summer break in a bid to allow leave for teams and also reschedule the races which were postponed.