Canadian Grand Prix ninth race off amid coronavirus crisis

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Canadian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton won the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix

The Canadian Grand Prix has become the latest Formula 1 race to be postponed as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The Montreal event is the ninth race to be affected so far this season.

It was due to be held on 14 June, but organisers had to make a decision now because of the length of time required to set up the track.

Attempts will be made to find a slot for the popular race on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve at the earliest opportunity in the summer.

Canadian Grand Prix president Francois Dumontier said: "I am proud to see how such wonderful initiatives and technical advancements stemming from Formula 1 are being applied in a time of crisis.

"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."

F1 is beholden to the climatological conditions in race locations as it seeks to reconstitute a calendar that contains at least the eight events required for the season to be classified as a World Championship.

The summers are warm in Montreal, but the Quebec city has bitterly cold and long winters.

The Canadian Grand Prix was held in early October when Montreal first held the race in 1978, and then on the last weekend in September in the subsequent three years, but the weather was often cold and by 1982 it was moved to its now-traditional June date.

The postponement means the first scheduled race not to be either postponed or cancelled is the French Grand Prix on 26 June, but the social distancing policies in place around much of the world make it uncertain when the season can finally get under way.

The next scheduled race after that is the Austrian Grand Prix on 5 July. Austria appears to be on course to be the first European country to gradually ease lockdown restrictions, although public events remain suspended until the end of June.

The British Grand Prix is next on the calendar on 19 July, and Silverstone has said it has until the end of April before it has to make a decision whether to postpone that date.

Silverstone has been in talks with F1 and is being considered as a likely starting point for the season in July or August, not least because seven of the 10 teams are based nearby in the south-east of England.

There have also been discussions about running two grands prix at Silverstone, the official British Grand Prix and a second event with a different title.

F1 is considering all options as it seeks to kick off the season, including holding races behind closed doors.

The sport has been taking major steps as it seeks to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus crisis, which significantly threatens F1's three main income streams - race-hosting fees, broadcast rights and sponsorship.

A substantial regulation change planned for 2021 has been postponed by a year, teams will have to use their 2020 cars again in 2021 and there are ongoing talks about lowering the new budget cap, which is set to be introduced at $175m (£135.9m) in 2021.

The McLaren, Williams and Racing Point teams have put a significant proportion of staff on furlough and their drivers have taken pay cuts, and F1 has done the same, with senior executives taking a salary drop of at least 20%.

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