The inaugural Vietnamese Grand Prix is set to go ahead as planned after fears surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak in neighbouring China threatened to scupper plans for the event.
The Hanoi showpiece was originally scheduled to take place two weeks before the Chinese Grand Prix in April but, after the Shanghai race was postponed, many thought the Vietnam race could suffer a similar fate.
However, if Vietnamese state media is to be believed, the race will go ahead as planned, despite being just 100 miles from the Chinese border.
“The time for the F1 race will not be postponed or delayed,” Tran Trung Hieu, deputy director of Hanoi’s tourism department said on state media on Tuesday.
“Although this is a sports event, it has a very huge impact on Vietnam and Hanoi’s tourism,” he said, adding all measures will be taken to ensure the “safety of the event.”
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This may not ring entirely true the closer we get to the race though with travel into eastern Asia almost at a complete stand-still.
While construction of the track continues apace, it may all be for nought if the teams and their crews simply can’t get to Hanoi for the event.
It would be an absolute disaster for the Vietnamese authorities who have committed to a stonking 10-year-deal with Formula 1 which is believed to be costing the country no less than $60 million a year.
It is no surprise then that they are determined for the race to go ahead even in the face of the outbreak across the border.
F1 authorities are still scrambling to find an appropriate date for the Chinese race to be rescheduled to and it is very likely that they may have to cancel the 2020 event entirely.
Even the season-opening Australian race was under threat at a stage due to the travel chaos but that also looks like it will go ahead as planned.
Mercedes will be favourites once again but both Ferrari and Red Bull look far better placed to finally challenge their dominance.
It certainly promises to be a very interesting season in 2020.