F1 not giving up on China race

Sports | 7 Feb 2020

Formula 1 would seek to reschedule the Chinese Grand Prix if it has to be postponed due to the coronavirus epidemic, motorsport managing director Ross Brawn says.

The high-profile race in Shanghai, due to be broadcast to many millions of television viewers around the world, is scheduled for April 19.

Shanghai sports authorities this week recommended the suspension of all sporting events in the city until the epidemic is over.

"China is an enthusiastic, growing market. So we'd like to have a race in China," Brawn said. "We will just try to find a window of when the race could happen towards the end of the year."

The Briton said the Chinese authorities would have to make the final decision on calling off the race and time was running out.

"There's two logistical deadlines," he said. "One is when all the sea freight goes which is this week, or next week. So the things like fuel and so on go on a ship. But that's not disastrous if that shifts and has to be brought back.

"Then we get into physically putting people over there. That's a big challenge with people going there to prepare for the race. That's a critical stage. And that will happen in two or three weeks time.

"I think that's the point at which really you have to say what the situation is."

Some airlines have suspended flights to China while governments have advised against all non-essential travel.

Hosting fees make up a significant proportion of Formula 1's revenues, with some races paying as much as US$40 million (HK$312 million) a year, which could mean a big hit for commercial rights holders Liberty Media if they were to make the first move.

There has been talk of swapping dates with another race, such as Russia, but Brawn said that was unlikely. The Russian promoters have already said they want to keep their September slot.

With 22 races scheduled, and rounds regionally grouped together, there are few spare weekends available and any change will pose a major logistical challenge.

REUTERS

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