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F1 open to new Chinese GP date if coronavirus forces postponement

Formula 1 will try to find an alternative date for the Chinese Grand Prix if the race has to be called off because of the coronavirus outbreak

The escalating situation in China, which this week resulted in Shanghai authorities recommending all sporting events be suspended until the outbreak is controlled, has cast doubt over the fourth race of the season taking place.

F1 is waiting for the Chinese race promoter to make a decision on the fate of the grand prix, but its managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn said if the event does not go ahead now, consideration will be made to running it later in the year.

"I think, if there is a probability it doesn't happen in April, it will be postponed," said Brawn in an interview with selected media including Autosport.

"We will leave open the opportunity to see if the race can run later in the year.

"China is an enthusiastic, growing market. So we'd like to have a race in China."

While there were rumours earlier this week that the Chinese GP could swap dates with another race, that idea was dismissed by Brawn.

"We probably wouldn't do that," he said.

"We will just try to find a window of when the race could happen towards the end of the year."

Finding a suitable slot inside the current schedule appears difficult, as there are no logical openings that would avoid a run of four of five consecutive grands prix.

One option could be to extend the calendar and hold the Chinese GP in December, though it is unlikely this would be supported by the teams.

"It looks very difficult," he said.

"We're waiting for the Chinese promoter and authorities to make the final decision, which I think they will.

"They have cancelled all the public events in March. So no public sporting events or activities.

"It is a tragic and very difficult situation. I think it'll become clear in the next week or two what's going to happen."

Brawn said F1 realistically needed a decision within the next few weeks, before its personnel begin travelling to China to start preparations for the race.

"There's two logistical deadlines," he said.

"One is when all the sea freight goes which is this week, or next week. So the things like fuel and so on go on a ship.

"But that's not disastrous if that shifts and has to be brought back.

"Then we get into physically putting people over there.

"That's a big challenge with people going there to prepare for the race. That's a critical stage.

"And that will happen in two or three weeks time. I think that's the point at which really you have to say what the situation is."

The virus has already affected other international sporting events in mainland China and Hong Kong.

The biggest event to be impacted so far is the World Athletics Indoor Championships, originally scheduled for Nanjing from March 13-15, which has been postponed until next year.

In tennis, a Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Group round due to run this week in Dongguan was cancelled, while Olympic qualifying contests across several sports have been moved to other countries.

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