February 3, 2020 / 9:18 PM / 20 days ago

Motor racing-Red Bull boss trusts F1 to make right call on Chinese GP

LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - The Chinese Grand Prix is set to be discussed by Formula One this week amid speculation the April 19 Shanghai race could join a growing list of sporting events hit by the coronavirus.

The grand prix is scheduled as the fourth round of what would be a record 22 race season.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told reporters on Monday that the situation was being carefully monitored and he trusted the judgement of the governing FIA and commercial rights holder Liberty Media.

“They are responsible for the health and wellbeing of not just the drivers in Formula One, but all the staff, all the travelling members of the media,” he said.

“I’m sure they’ll take the necessary due diligence before making any commitment about either delaying or postponing or cancelling the race. So we have to trust their judgement, their knowledge.

“We keep a very close eye on the situation. I’m sure it will be on the agenda of Wednesday’s strategy meeting where we’ll get the next update,” he added.

The Strategy Group is part of the governance of the sport and comprises FIA and Formula representatives as well as six of the 10 teams.

Motor sport has already been affected by the virus, with the all-electric Formula E series at the weekend calling off its Chinese round scheduled for Sanya on March 21.

The death toll in China from the epidemic has risen to 361, with a growing number of countries reporting cases. Some airlines have suspended flights to China while governments have advised against all non-essential travel.

“At the moment we couldn’t send anyone because they couldn’t get there,” said Horner.

Red Bull’s race-winning Dutch driver Max Verstappen, expected to be a title contender this year, said he was not concerned about the situation as things stood.

“At the moment it doesn’t look too good, but it’s still a long way so I’m not too worried about it now,” said the 22-year-old. “We just wait for the decision and see what happens. I don’t worry too much in life.”

Some media reports have suggested also that China could swap dates with Russia, whose race is scheduled for September, but that looks unlikely.

A spokesman for Sochi Autodrom and Russian promoter ROSGONKI told Reuters there had been no approach of any sort and the dates remained as set in the calendar. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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