Canadian Grand Prix becomes ninth F1 race to be postponed

Formula One season will have to be rearranged and could run into 2021

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, right, of Britain, consoles Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, of Germany, after Hamilton won the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix auto race Sunday, June 9, 2019 in Montreal. Vettel finished first but was assessed a penalty to end up in second place. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)
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The Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, scheduled for June 14, has joined a growing list of Formula One races postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The race is the ninth to be affected by the virus, with the March 15 season-opening Australian Grand Prix cancelled along with May's showcase Monaco Grand Prix.

Commercial rights holder Liberty Media hopes to get the championship started in the European summer with a reduced and greatly rearranged schedule of between 15 and 18 races that could run into the New Year.

"At the moment it is crucial that all of our energies be put together to overcome Covid-19. We will welcome you with open arms at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve as soon as it is safe to do so," said Canadian Grand Prix chief executive Francois Dumontier.

The race is promoted by Octane Racing Group and organisers said the decision to postpone, after regular discussions with city authorities and Formula One, was not taken lightly.

"We have heard the directives issued by public health officials and as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic are following the expert guidance provided by the authorities," the organisers said.

Almost half the Covid-19 cases in Canada are in the province of Quebec, of which Montreal is the largest city.

Formula One chairman Chase Carey said the sport supported the "necessary decision to ensure the safety of fans and the community.

"We always look forward to travelling to the incredible city of Montreal and while we will all have to wait a bit longer, we will put on a great show when we arrive later this year."

Organisers said tickets would remain valid and spectators will be informed of their options when a new date is decided.

Canada will have two drivers this season with Nicholas Latifi, a rookie at Williams, and Lance Stroll continuing at Racing Point, a team owned by his father Lawrence.

"Naturally, I’m sad that I’ll have to wait for the chance to race at my home F1 event," said Latifi on his website.

"Since I’ve been competing, my ambition has been to represent my country at the highest level. And I’ve been looking forward to June’s race in Montreal ever since I was announced as a driver with Williams.

"But as action to control the spread of the virus stepped up, and other Montreal festivals were delayed or cancelled, today’s news was inevitable, I guess."

Formula One now has to try to reschedule races in Bahrain, Vietnam, China, Azerbaijan, the Netherlands and Spain as well as Canada with France, Austria and Britain looking likely to join the list.

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone has set an April deadline to decide whether it can go ahead.