Let’s face it: 2020 did not start in the best way possible. The world is crumbling under the coronavirus, and everything is coming to a standstill.
This is anything but ideal, but the truth of the matter is that a standstill of sorts could possibly halt covid-19 in its tracks. Perhaps not entirely, but to a degree. The impact of the virus, on a global scale, is so intense, that airlines have suspended trips to highly-infected areas, like China and Italy.
The global automotive sector is forced to its knees and China saw a drop of almost 80% in car sales - the highest in the country’s history.
Even sport is not left untouched. In America, for example, numerous sporting codes suspended their seasons until further notice. And motorsport, particularly Formula 1, already saw the first four races of the 2020 either cancelled or postponed. The most recent being the opening race of the season in Australia.
It’s challenging times, but times where the world needs to show understanding and compassion for difficult decisions role players are faced with. And this include Liberty Media (F1 owners) and the FIA (F1 governing body).
Disgruntled fans after the 2020 Australian F1 GP has been called off. Image: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
What happened in Australia?
Two hours before the first practice session was about to begin, the FIA announced that the Australian GP will be called off. Teams and drivers already assembled at the track during the week, but a McLaren-Renault team member tested positive for the coronavirus. This forced the McLaren team to withdraw from the race, which in turn forced F1’s hand to call off the weekend completely.
Drivers like Lewis Hamilton came to Australia with a huge sense of reluctance, and pulled no punches about their relief that the race has been cancelled. Why? Because why put lives at risk. Covid-19 does not ask for permission. It has no preference on who to attack. Anyone is vulnerable to the virus. Even the most high-profile racing drivers.
The Chinese GP has already been called off, and the Bahrain GP organisers said that the race weekend will be run without any spectators in attendance. Vietnam, one of the four opening races and new to the F1 calendar alongside Zandvoort, maintained that it will continue with its weekend, but covid-19 forced it to postpone.
As it stands, the 2020 F1 season will begin with the Dutch GP at Zandvoort, on 1 - 3 May.
Chase Carey (far right), CEO and executive chairman of the Formula 1 Group, addresses media and fans after the Australian GP was cancelled. Image: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Survival of the 2020 season
The greatest question around F1 and the coronavirus is whether or not the season should continue, or be called off completely. As a precaution, it was the right decision to not host the opening races of the season. Not only is F1 doing its part to limit the spread of the virus, but it is also protecting everyone who’s physically involved with the sport.
Scientists and doctors are hard at work trying to find a cure for covid-19. Once it’s found, the world will return to its routine. The same goes for F1. Even if only a handful of races are held in 2020, it should be enough to at least dampen our hunger to see our favourite drivers battling it out for season glory.
It was also suggested by Liberty Media that when F1’s annual four-week summer break comes along in August, that period should be used to try and accommodate the cancelled opening races. Not every race will and can be held during the summer break, but you can believe that the powers that be will do all they can to accommodate each one.
Covid-19 has caused nothing but havoc over the first quarter of 2020. One can only hope that it is stopped in its tracks before more damage is caused.