Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 April 2020

Coronavirus: Dutch Grand Prix could be next race pulled from F1 schedule

The Dutch round, the first in Holland for 35 years, is due to take place on May 3 but is now in danger of being postponed

The Dutch Grand Prix is in danger of becoming the next race pulled from the F1's coronavirus-hit calendar.

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix was cancelled just 90 minutes before practice was due to begin on Friday following McLaren's withdrawal after one of their mechanics tested positive for coronavirus.

Subsequent races in Bahrain, Vietnam and China have all been postponed.

F1's governing body, the FIA, issued a statement to indicate the campaign could get under way at the beginning of May - in time for the race in the Netherlands. F1, however, said the end of May is now the target. The Dutch round, the first in Holland for 35 years, is due to take place on May 3 but is now in danger of being postponed.

Official confirmation from motorsport's governing body is expected at the start of next week.

It is hoped that the Zandvoort race could be moved to August, with the sport's traditional summer break scrapped.

The Spanish Grand Prix, due to take place a week after the race in Holland on May 10 is also set to be called off. It is unclear whether it will be rescheduled.

The historic Monaco Grand Prix, set for May 24, could become the sport's biggest casualty.

There is growing support within F1 for delaying the start of the campaign until the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku on June 7. Eighteen races may be crammed into six months, with the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix slated for November 29 most likely to be pushed back to December.

However, the situation remains fluid with huge uncertainty around the long-term impact of coronavirus.

Meanwhile Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes world champion Lewis Hamilton should stick with Mercedes rather than sign for Ferrari when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The Mercedes driver, 35, chasing a record-equalling seventh drivers' crown that would move him level with Michael Schumacher, can have his pick of teams but Ecclestone has warned him off choosing the Italian manufacturer.

Ecclestone believes Hamilton, who has won five world championships at Mercedes since joining the German marque in 2013 including the last three titles, would be better served staying with what he knows rather than move to Ferrari, if he decides to continue his F1 career beyond this season.

In an interview published in the Daily Mail, Ecclestone said: "If I were Lewis I would stay with Mercedes.

"He is comfortable there. He is in charge. he's got the guy who turns the lights on and off supporting him [team principal Toto Wolff]).

"It wouldn't work at Ferrari for him. They are Italians. He would have to really learn the language so he'd know what they were saying behind his back, for a start."

Updated: March 14, 2020 04:09 PM

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