Azerbaijan GP officially postponed, F1 goes Virtual

The coronavirus has claimed another Formula 1 race with the start of the 2020 season once again pushed back after Baku postponed its grand prix.

The race’s organisers have announced that, due to the pandemic, they will not be hosting the Azerbaijan GP in early June.

They are, however, hoping for a slot on the calendar “later in the year”.

Azerbajian GP officially postponed

All the speculation about the 2020 Formula 1 season beginning in early June with the Azerbaijan GP was wrong, completely wrong.

The race’s organisers have joined a growing list announcing that their grand prix has been postponed thanks to the coronavirus outbreak.

While more countries around the globe go into lock down to deal with the outbreak, the sporting world is among those hardest hit, Formula 1 included.

The start of the 2020 World Champion was put on hold earlier this month when F1 cancelled the Australian GP at the 11th hour while Baku, which was meant to be round eight, is the latest victim.

“Baku City Circuit (BCC) has today taken the decision to postpone the Azerbaijan Grand Prix due to take place on June 5th – 7th,” read the statement.

“The postponement was agreed upon after extensive discussions with Formula 1 as well as the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and the Government of the Azerbaijan Republic. This comes as 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’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.

“BCC shares its fans disappointment at not being able to experience the pinnacle of motorsport race through the streets of Baku this June. To that end, we will continue to work closely with Formula 1, the FIA and the Government of the Azerbaijan Republic to monitor the situation with a view to announcing a new race date later in the 2020 season.

“All tickets for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix will continue to be valid, without any additional formality. As soon as the new date of the Grand Prix is confirmed, all spectators will be informed accordingly about the available options, both for those who have purchased their tickets through the Baku City Circuit’s website (www.bakucitycircuit.com) and through other channels.

“The thoughts of everyone at Baku City Circuit during this challenging and unprecedented situation go out to all those directly and indirectly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We wish to thank all our supporters, customers and partners for your understanding and look forward to welcoming you back to Baku later in the year for more unpredictable, thrilling racing action at the Home of the Street Fighters.

“In the meantime, we ask you to stay safe and stay at home if you can.”

Over to Canada

Just 14 grands prix of the season’s 22 remain on the calendar, at least for now but that’s a changing picture on an almost weekly basis.

With Baku cancelled that means Canada and its Circuit Gilles Villeneuve are next up with the race scheduled for June 14.

Canada, though, has already pulled its team from the Olympic Games prompting speculation that it too will postpone its grand prix.

The remaining races

1 Canadian Grand Prix – Jun 12-14
2 French Grand Prix – Jun 26-28
3 Austrian Grand Prix – Jul 3-5
4 British Grand Prix – Jul 17-19
5 Hungarian Grand Prix – Jul 31-Aug 2
6 Belgian Grand Prix – Aug 28-30
7 Italian Grand Prix – Sep 4-6
8 Singapore Grand Prix – Sep 18-20
9 Russian Grand Prix – Sep 25-27
10 Japanese Grand Prix – Oct 9-11
11 United States Grand Prix – Oct 23-25
12 Mexican Grand Prix – Oct 30-Nov 1
13 Brazilian Grand Prix – Nov 13-15
14 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Nov 27-29

Formula 1 steps into the virtual world

With the grand prix racing on hold for two months, if not longer, Formula 1 has stepped into the virtual world to entertain its fans.

On Sunday night the sport held the first Virtual Grand Prix of Bahrain with a few unusual names in the mix.

Although all 10 teams fielded two cars, as they would in a grand prix, only Lando Norris for McLaren and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi took part.

Olympic cyclist Sir Chris Hoy raced for Red Bull with golfer Ian Poulter joining the Renault F1 team while singer Liam Payne drove for Williams.

Philipp Eng took pole position but lost the lead at the first corner to former driver turned commentator Johnny Herbert.

Herbert, though, was penalised for cutting the first corner and dropped back down the order.

Back up into the lead, Eng was challenged by China’s Guanyu Zhou with the Renault driver passing the Red Bull.

Zhou raced to the victory ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne and Eng.

Norris was involved in a last-lap tussle with Racing Point’s Jimmy Broadbent but came off second best.

The race was a bit of light-hearted entertainment for the Formula 1 fans as the sport’s fans not so patiently wait for the on-track action to begin.

Until then Formula 1 will be steaming the Virtual GPs every time a race is postponed. The next event is the Virtual Grand Prix of Vietnam on 5 April.

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