February 12, 2020 / 9:30 PM / 13 days ago

INTERVIEW-Motor racing-F1 and partners to meet to find Chinese GP solution

TORONTO, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Formula One, the FIA and promoters will meet this week in an effort to salvage this year’s Chinese Grand Prix, F1 managing director Ross Brawn said on Wednesday after the race was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Although the April 19 race in Shanghai has been put on hold, Brawn told Reuters that the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix set for April 5 in Hanoi is going ahead as planned.

“We are talking with the FIA, we are talking with the promoters and we’ve got some meetings this week to see if we can find a solution,” Brawn told Reuters on the sidelines of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductions. “We are going to try to fit it in but it will be very tough.

“As for Vietnam all the feedback we are getting is rather like the UK, there have been some cases but not a level that would concern us.

“The advice we are getting is that it can go ahead there.”

Brawn did not say when or where the meeting would take place.

A host of international sporting events have been cancelled due to coronavirus, including the all-electric Formula E motor racing series that abandoned plans for a race in the Chinese city of Sanya next month.

The flu-like virus has killed more than 1,100 people and infected more than 44,000 in China after it first emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year.

Even if China can get control of the epidemic, finding a window in a packed calendar to get the Chinese Grand Formula One Prix back onto the schedule is problematic.

“It might need another race to move and that’s a major consideration and a major concern,” Brawn said. “It would be pretty stressful for the teams to fit it in but I don’t think any of us want to lose the Chinese Grand Prix.

“We are making our best efforts but there is no guarantee.”

As the epidemic worsened Brawn said Formula One had simply run out of time to make a decision on the race and with equipment about to be loaded onto boats was left with no choice but to pull the plug.

“Because of the logistics of Formula One a lot of the sea freight was getting ready to set sail and once it is gone we can’t get it back so it was really reaching a crucial point where we had make a decision,” Brawn said.

“The organising authority in China and the promoters advised they really didn’t see the situation being resolved by the time the race was held so we’ve agreed to a postponement.” (Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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