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Baku grand prix latest to be placed on F1 backburner

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LONDON • Formula One's Azerbaijan Grand Prix yesterday became the latest casualty of a season that has yet to get started due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

The race in Baku was originally scheduled for June 7 and it now means the first eight rounds of the championship have either been rescheduled or cancelled.

There had been calls for a quick decision as extensive preparations are needed to make the street circuit race-worthy, including the installation of safety fencing and barriers, as well as the sealing of drain covers and asphalting.

In a statement to address the postponement, organisers Baku City Circuit (BCC) said: "This comes as a direct result of the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic and based on the guidance provided to us by the relevant authorities.

"BCC's primary concern throughout has been the health and well-being of the Azerbaijani people as well as all visiting F1 fans, staff and championship participants."

Postponement of the race leaves Azerbaijan without a major sporting event this year, exacerbating the losses from the steep drop in tourism numbers due to the outbreak. Its capital, Baku, had been due to host four football matches including a quarter-final of the now postponed Euro 2020.

The next race scheduled after Azerbaijan is the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on June 14, with France following on June 28.

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Both races, however, are also considered uncertain as Covid-19 is showing no signs of abating.

France is under a lockdown, while Canada has closed its borders to all but essential travel.

While F1 has cancelled its usual August break, bringing it forward and extending it to three weeks in March and April in the hope of rescheduling races from earlier in the season, Dutch Grand Prix boss Jan Lammers has admitted that the postponed race, originally set for May 3, may fall by the wayside.

Excitement had been palpable over the prospect of seeing F1 drivers race at the Zandvoort circuit for the first time in 35 years and tickets have long sold out, but cancellation appears to be on the cards.

"We've accepted the fact it might be one of the consequences," Lammers told motorsport.com.

"There are countries where the virusRead More – Source