Next month’s Sanya E-Prix has been canceled amid growing concerns surrounding the spread of coronavirus in China and beyond, Formula E confirmed on Sunday morning.
The race was set to be the ABB FIA Formula E Championship’s only visit to China and its surrounding region after the cancelation of the Hong Kong E-Prix due to civil unrest in the city.
A statement released by Formula E says the decision was made after consultation with the local government in Sanya and Hainan province, the FIA, Chinese motorsport body the Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports of People’s Republic of China, and Formula E’s regional partner Enova Holdings.
The second edition of the race was scheduled for March 21 and its cancelation leaves another lengthy gap in the calendar between the Marrakesh E-Prix on Feb. 29 and Rome E-Prix on April 4.
Formula E says the decision was made to protect the health and safety of people involved in the race, due to the spread of coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The virus has since spread to every Chinese region and a number of countries worldwide, and was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization on Thursday.
A statement read: “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 FIA released a statement earlier in the week saying it was prepared to “take any action” to protect the motorsport community and wider public amid the Coronavirus outbreak.
Sanya Cancelation Resolves Sebring WEC Clash
The cancelation of next month’s race actually proves beneficial for a number of drivers in the paddock who faced clashes with the FIA World Endurance Championship’s 1000 Miles of Sebring on the same weekend.
A clash would have affected Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, James Calado, Antonio Felix da Costa and Nyck de Vries, all of whom race in both series and each had their own deals in place for prioritization of one race.
It was the only remaining WEC clash on the Formula E calendar after WEC moved its 6 Hours of Spa date to avoid the Seoul E-Prix weekend and Formula E canceled its initial TBA date in December that would have clashed with the 8 Hours of Bahrain.
Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird didn’t face any clashes in the end because he gave up his full-season WEC seat with AF Corse to focus on Formula E.
With no race clashes anymore, he could have theoretically continued to compete in both series.
It’s unclear whether Formula E will replace the Sanya round by adding an additional race onto another weekend later in the season, scrap the round altogether, or even seek to race at Sanya at a later date.
Formula E has a four-week gap in May between the Seoul and Jakarta races and could theoretically return to Sanya during that period, while the series is already in east Asia.
Failing that, an existing weekend could be made into a double-header to make up for the missed round.