F1 Coronavirus Changes Could See Chinese Race Replaced by Italy’s Mugello: Report

There's one big obstacle to get past, though.

Earlier this month, China’s struggle to contain its coronavirus epidemic forced promoters of the Chinese Grand Prix to request a rain check, and the chance to potentially host the race later in the 2020 season. Formula 1’s management obliged and formally postponed the race, keeping the door open for the People’s Republic to host the event toward the year’s end. Racing fans in Tuscany, however, see the Chinese GP’s delay as a chance to get their local track, Mugello Circuit, on the F1 calendar at last—but there’s a familiar obstacle standing in the way

“We proposed to replace the Chinese GP. The circuit meets all the required standards and on March 1 we will present the official candidacy,” said Federico Ignesti, the mayor of Scarperia e San Piero, in an interview with Radio Sportiva transcribed by Formula Passion. “If not, Mugello will go on to have an F1 race in the future. The ownership of the circuit is making preparatory investments for entry into the Formula 1 calendar in the coming years.”

Mugello is owned by Ferrari, which sometimes uses the facility for its Corse Clienti private track day program. The circuit meets FIA Grade 1 safety standards, which are required for tracks that seek to host F1 races, and it has held mid-season testing for the series as recently as 2012. Mugello has yet to host an open-wheel race for a category above long-defunct Formula 3000, though F1 drivers have praised the circuit for its string of high-speed corners.

[Mark] Webber said that a ride to Mugello is worth 10 in Abu Dhabi [sic],” continued Ignesti. “The Ferrari Schumacher epic was born precisely on this circuit. The Raikkonen world championship is also tied to the Tuscan track. Good luck is not just for the Mugello circuit, but for all of Italy to have two Formula 1 Grands Prix. [sic]”

As for the likelihood of Mugello getting its own Grand Prix, it’s a mixed bag. In addition to the Chinese Grand Prix’s postponement, there are rumors that Bahrain and Vietnam could also have their F1 calendar dates shifted or removed completely. Team managers and Formula One Management will reportedly meet Thursday to discuss the situation, according to Auto Motor und Sport, meaning there could be two more available slots to fill. That said, Italy itself—specifically the country’s northern region, where Mugello is located—isn’t without issues.

Eleven Italian towns have been quarantined due to, you guessed it, the coronavirus outbreak. In all, more than 50,000 people have been secluded. Fear has spiked as the country’s number of identified cases ballooned from six to over 200 between last Friday and now, reports the BBC. Seven people have lost their lives in Italy as a result of the illness, and the country’s number of confirmed cases ranks third only behind China and South Korea.

Hopefully, Mugello will one day host the Grand Prix it rightfully deserves, but it likely won’t be in 2020.

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