F1 season in doubt due to coronavirus

Laine Clark
F1 CEO Chase Carey (centre, in white) announces the cancellation of the 2020 Australian Grand Prix

Uncertainty surrounds the Formula One season after F1 CEO Chase Carey was unable to confirm whether the next round would go ahead following the Australian Grand Prix's cancellation due to coronavirus fears.

Carey says he hopes to make a decision in the "coming days" on the sport's next move after admitting there is a question mark over at least the next three rounds, starting with March 22's Bahrain Grand Prix.

F1 have already announced that the second round in the Gulf state will be held without spectators, while the fourth round in China has already been postponed.

Vietnam's inaugural grand prix, scheduled for the third round on April 5, is the latest to come under consideration after the country announced it would refuse entry to anyone who had been in Italy in the previous 14 days due to coronavirus.

That could prevent Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi and team members from Ferrari and Alpha Tauri, as well as tyre-supplier Pirelli, from travelling to the country, prompting Carey to fly to Vietnam for crisis talks this week.

Carey's immediate concern is Bahrain after balking when asked on Friday if the second round would go ahead following the decision to pull the pin on the Melbourne event amid health fears.

"It's fluid. We would love to have an answer but you can't force an answer to something you don't have an answer to," he said.

"We will deal with that as the situation evolves."

There have been rumours that F1 will suspend the season until at least round eight's Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku, scheduled for June 7.

"I don't think it is productive at this point to deal with hypotheticals," Carey said when asked about the speculation on Friday.

"We will have discussions in the coming days on trying to look forward.

"Are we looking at various options? Sure. But we are not looking at putting plans in place long term. You deal with the issues that are imminent."

Meanwhile, Australian Grand Prix organisers are hopeful that the Albert Park race can still be held later this year.

However it remains to be seen how F1 will fit it into their program with the Chinese Grand Prix also having to be rescheduled in a calendar featuring a record 22 rounds.

"I have learned in the world of Formula One you never say never," Australian Grand Prix Corporation boss Andrew Westacott said.

"It is clearly a topic of conversation that will happen in the fullness of time."