Bahrain and Vietnam Formula One Grands Prix off because of coronavirus outbreak

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Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain. (Reuters/File Photo)
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In this file aerial photo taken on March 10, 2020, the Formula One Vietnam Grand Prix race track site is seen in Hanoi. Vietnam Formula One Grand Prix has been postponed due to coronavirus - organisers said on March 13, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 13 March 2020

Bahrain and Vietnam Formula One Grands Prix off because of coronavirus outbreak

  • Bahrain was scheduled for next week — at an empty track — and the inaugural Vietnamese GP in Hanoi on April 5

PARIS: The Bahrain and Vietnam Grand Prix races were postponed on Friday because of the coronavirus outbreak, the third and fourth races of the Formula One season to be called off.
Bahrain was scheduled for next week — at an empty track — and the inaugural Vietnamese GP in Hanoi on April 5.
Governing body FIA said in a statement that it will consider “the viability of potential alternative dates” later this year for Bahrain and Vietnam “should the situation improve.”
The season could start in the Netherlands, at the Zandvoort track outside Amsterdam, on May 3.
“But given the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Europe in recent days, this will be regularly reviewed,” the FIA said.
The season-opening Australian GP in Melbourne was called off as thousands of fans queued to get in for Friday’s first practice session, while teams and drivers were packing up to leave.
“Formula 1, the FIA and the promoters have taken these decisions in order to ensure the health and safety of the traveling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains our primary concern,” the FIA said in a statement Friday.
Six-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, who needs one more title to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven titles, said he was unhappy about by the situation but welcomed the decision.
“Sadly, this is the right decision,” Hamilton wrote on Twitter. “No one wants this, we all want to get in our cars and get racing, but we have to be realistic and we have to put health and safety first.”
The Dutch GP returned to this year’s calendar after last hosting a race at Zandvoort in 1985. The 22-race calendar for 2020 featured Vietnam’s eagerly-awaited F1 debut.
“This has been a very difficult decision to reach,” Vietnam’s GP Corporation said in a statement. “Our thoughts go out to all those directly and indirectly affected by the current coronavirus situation, as well as those for whom this announcement will be a disappointment as they looked forward to an exciting inaugural race.”
The Chinese GP in Shanghai scheduled for April 19 was postponed on Feb 12.
There have been more than 128,000 cases and 4,700 deaths globally since the virus outbreak started late last year. Most people quickly recover from the virus after experiencing only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks.
Friday’s late decision to call off the Australian GP hastened after McLaren withdrew because a team member tested positive for the COVID-19 illness.
Even before the cancelation was announced, Hamilton’s Mercedes team sent a letter to the FIA and F1 requesting it be called off and had commenced preparations to leave.
McLaren’s withdrawal was ultimately the catalyst. That person and 14 other McLaren team members have been placed in quarantine in a Melbourne hotel for 14 days.
Members of the US-backed Haas team were in isolation but were cleared after tests.
“The global situation regarding COVID-19 is fluid and very difficult to predict and its right we take time to assess the situation and make the right decisions,” F1 chairman Chase Carey said. “The Bahrain Grand Prix is an exciting race in our schedule, and we look forward to being back there as soon as we can. We are also looking forward to Vietnam’s inaugural race and bringing the spectacle of F1 to one of the most exciting cities in the world.”


Record-breaking Lukaku propelling Inter’s European dream

Updated 12 August 2020

Record-breaking Lukaku propelling Inter’s European dream

  • Inter reach their first European semifinal since 2010 when they went on to win the Champions League

MILAN: A record-breaking Romelu Lukaku is leading Inter Milan's chase for their first trophy in 9 years.

Eyebrows were raised last year when Inter shelled out a club record of around €65 million ($73 million) plus €13 million  ($15 million) in bonuses for Lukaku, who had had a disappointing final season at Manchester United.

However, Lukaku swiftly developed a scintillating partnership with Lautaro Martínez and their goals helped Inter sustain a title challenge before eventually finishing second in Serie A, a point behind Juventus.

Inter scored 81 league goals — well above the paltry 57 they managed in the previous campaign.

Lukaku scored again on Monday and set up another to help Inter beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 to reach the Europa League semifinals.

“Romelu has never played so well, not even in the past,” Inter coach Antonio Conte said.

The Belgian forward became the first player to find the net in nine consecutive Europa League games, surpassing the eight set by Alan Shearer for Newcastle in 2005.

Lukaku’s 31st goal of the season took him past the 30-mark for the first time in his career.

“I’ve always wanted to win, ever since I was little,” Lukaku said. “I’ve always said that I will give my all for this team.

“We’re a great team; my teammates help me a lot, otherwise I couldn’t do these things and achieve these numbers ... my teammates look for me. We’re doing well together, all of us.”

Inter reached their first European semifinal since 2010 when they went on to win the Champions League as well as Serie A and the Italian Cup to complete a historic treble.

They retained the Italian Cup the following year but have not managed to lift silverware since.

The Nerazzurri play Shakhtar Donetsk or Basel in the semifinals on Monday.

After an intense period of playing matches approximately every three days after soccer restarted following the pandemic-enforced shutdown, Conte has almost a week to prepare his players.

He will want to make sure they understand that profligacy can prove costly at this level.

Inter have often failed to kill off games in which they have  dominated, and that was again the case on Monday when they had opportunities to extend their advantage.

That allowed Leverkusen to stay in the quarterfinal despite having only two shots on target.

“We could have gone through in a more relaxed manner because, despite the fact that we never really had to dig in, the result was close,” Conte said.

“It’s difficult to be annoyed. I can only compliment the lads on their performance. As is the case after every game, we’ll analyze every situation and see where we can improve.”