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Coronavirus adds F1 to casualty list

In a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus Formula 1 have made the best decision possible

It’s been a long dry summer, and we’re not talking about the Karoo here, we’re talking the lack of F1 cars on tv almost every second Sunday. There’s been no information from teams, and some of the drivers keep us entertained on social media, though what we all want there’s been none of – RACING!

Mid-February saw the reveal of the 2020 teams, kit and car included, followed by initial testing in Barcelona to see what the new machines can do. We learnt that Mercedes-AMG will continue to innovate even in the face of rule changes with their fancy new steering system – DAS, or Dual Axis Steering, the Red Bull’s are twitchy on the rear (and we expected an answer to DAS by the first race) and that Ferrari seem so far off the pace we genuinely hope they’re sandbagging.

Then coronavirus hit, and while we were all concerned about race fixtures Formula 1 assured us that the season-opening Melbourne race would continue as planned, even though other racing events were cancelling or postponing their events. It was then announced that Bahrain would be a spectator free-event as the coronavirus continued to spread around the world unchallenged.

And still, Melbourne was green-lighted, Daniel Ricciardo was even tweeting with excitement that the Australian race had never had an Australian on the podium. Clearly he thinks his new Renault is a contender in this year’s battle for the championship, let’s just hope that they’re competitive enough to race this year and not perform a weird F1 economy run in the mid-field as they did in the majority of races in 2019.

Then Thursday 12 March dawned, and with it the news that McLaren wouldn’t be competing for the weekend as a team member had tested positive for coronavirus.

Everyone began questioning how this would affect McLaren’s chance in the championship before the season had officially begun. They have two strong drivers in Sainz Jr and Norris, a solid car and one of the most decorated team principles in Andreas Seidl, they couldn’t afford not to race.

Friday 13 March dawned with the news that the 2020 Australian Grand Prix was cancelled. And as much as the teams and fans are gutted to have to wait out the dry spell we all completely understand that this is a situation of safety first.

From there it followed that Bahrain would join Vietnam in the ‘postponed races’ section and that the Dutch and Spanish GPs would be watched closely given how quickly the coronavirus is spreading. The F1 Joburg Festival due to take place on 29 March has been postponed too, and Ferrari has suspended production at their factories in Italy.

Formula 1 is saying we’re now looking at May as a potential start date for the 2020 season, though they are monitoring the spread of coronavirus and will keep fans updated accordingly. Who knows how this season will play out? The logical option would be to shorten or do away with the summer break and run the missed races during that time, or run races back-to-back where travel logistics allow for it, though who knows. You can keep yourself amused in the meantime by repeating Drive to Survive S1 and S2, re-watching old F1 and reading Adrian Newey’s book How to Build a Car to understand the technical genius that lies behind Red Bull and why we fully expect an answer to Mercedes-AMG’s DAS system when racing starts.

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Image: formula1.com

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