Virus forces postponement of Canadian GP

Australia's Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo was sixth in last year's Canadian Grand Prix.
Australia's Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo was sixth in last year's Canadian Grand Prix.

The Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal joined a growing list of Formula One races postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, with the 2020 season yet to get on the starting grid.

The June 14 race is the ninth to be affected by the virus, with the March 15 season-opening Australian GP cancelled along with May's showcase Monaco race.

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.

F1 chairman Chase Carey said Formula One 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.

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.

Australian Associated Press