The ongoing global control measures for the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak have had an impact on the current Formula E season, with one event put on hold and teams’ travel plans for others thrown into disarray.
Last week, the postponement of the Sanya ePrix was announced. In a joint statement between Formula E, the FIA and local organisers, it was announced that the race in mainland China will not continue on the originally scheduled date of Saturday, March 21.
“In view of the continued spread of coronavirus and after close consultation with the relevant departments of Hainan Province and Sanya Municipal Government, Formula E – together with the FIA, the Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports of People’s Republic of China (CAMF), and regional partner Enova Holdings – have jointly decided not to race in Sanya on the scheduled date of March 21, 2020,” the statement reads.
“Given the current growing health concerns and with the World Health Organisation declaring the coronavirus an international emergency, Formula E has taken the necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of its travelling staff, championship participants and spectators, which remains of paramount importance.
“We are working closely with our regional partner and the local authorities in Hainan Province and Sanya Municipal Government, to continue monitoring the situation as it develops. All parties will take the appropriate amount of time to study the viability of potential alternative dates should the situation improve.”
The postponement of the Sanya event leaves a five-week gap in the calendar between the Marrakesh ePrix on February 29 and the Rome ePrix on April 4. Should the Sanya event not be able to go ahead with a revised date, it will leave the current championship season without an event in greater China, despite there having been two in the original calendar – the Marrakesh event was a late re-inclusion to the series after the Hong Kong ePrix was cancelled due to ongoing civil unrest in that Special Administrative Region.
The Sanya ePrix has been removed from the calendar on the championship’s website, which currently shows a season comprised of 13 races across 11 cities. As for a revised date for Sanya, there is a five-week gap between the Seoul ePrix on May 3 and the Jakarta ePrix on June 6, this window would appear to be a logical option as the series’ cars and equipment will already be in Asia.
With the COVID-19 emergency still developing – and seemingly still increasing – globally, a revised event in Sanya in just three months time may still be too soon. Time will tell, but there is a possibility of the Sanya ePrix having to be completely cancelled for 2019/20, should there be a minimal improvement in the situation globally.
The changes to the Sanya event are not the only impact on the season being brought about by COVID-19, the NIO 333 team have also had their plans for this weekend’s Mexico City ePrix disrupted by the developing situation.
Several of the team’s China based-staff remained at home in Shanghai across the Chinese New Year holiday period and while the team have announced that all of the crew are currently healthy and preparing as normal for the next event, there is a possibility that travel limitations and bans currently in place to and from mainland China may affect their ability to get to Mexico.
NIO 333’s driver Ma Qing Hua – himself also a Chinese national – was sent to Mexico City by the team on February 2, before many of the travel sanctions were introduced. Once on the ground in Mexico, Ma has been observing a 14-day quarantine period in his hotel which ends in time for the event.
The 2019/20 FIA Formula E Championship will continue this Saturday, 15 February.
Images via FIA Formula E Championship
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