F1 News: French GP called off amid ongoing COVID-19 disruption

Formula 1 has confirmed the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard has been cancelled, pushing the earliest possible start of the new season into July

F1 News: French GP called off amid ongoing COVID-19 disruption

The French government announced earlier this month it would be extending existing lockdown measures for an additional month in the bid to combat the spread of COVID-19.

French president Emmanuel Macron had confirmed the ban on public gatherings would remain until "mid-July", which made the prospect of staging the grand prix scheduled for 28 June at Paul Ricard highly improbable.

F1 confirmed in a statement on Monday that the French Grand Prix "would not go ahead in 2020", becoming the tenth race this year to be called off.

Eric Boullier, managing director of the French GP said: "Given the evolution of the situation linked to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the French Grand Prix takes note of the decisions announced by the French State making it impossible to maintain our event.

"The eyes of the GIP Grand Prix de France - Le Castellet are already turning towards the summer of 2021 in order to offer our spectators an even more original event in the heart of the Southern Region."

F1 boss Chase Carey added: "We have been in close contact with the French promoter during this evolving situation and while it is disappointing for our fans and the F1 community that the French Grand Prix will not take place we fully support the decision taken by the French authorities in France and look forward to being back at Paul Ricard soon."

It means the Austrian Grand Prix on 5 July is now the earliest race yet to be called off.

The Austrian government has begun to ease the national lockdown, but is still enforcing strict social distancing rules.

Officials in Austria have said they are open to hosting the race behind closed doors, and the event promoters believe an isolation plan to keep team personnel away from the local community will help boost chances of the race going ahead.

The next event scheduled after Austria is the British Grand Prix on 19 July, which announced earlier this morning that no fans will be permitted to attend if the event can be run at all.

A heavily-revised schedule is anticipated once the pandemic allows for racing to resume, including two-day race weekends, a series of triple-header events, and an extension into 2021.

Races in Australia, Bahrain, China, Vietnam, the Netherlands, Spain, Azerbaijan and Canada have already been postponed.

The Monaco Grand Prix is the only other F1 event to have been officially cancelled outright so far.

A minimum of eight races on three continents are required for the F1 season to count as a world championship, which Brawn said could still be achieved even if racing resumed as late as October.

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