Coronavirus: Indy 500 postponed until August 23

By Sports Desk March 26, 2020

The Indianapolis 500 has been postponed until August 23 due to the coronavirus crisis.

May 24 was due to be the date for the most prestigious motor race in the United States, but it has been put back three months.

Fernando Alonso will be among the drivers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the two-time Formula One world champion makes another attempt to complete the triple crown - winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans and Indy 500.

Track owner Roger Penske said: "The Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is my favourite time of year, and like our fans, I am disappointed that we have had to reschedule the Indianapolis 500.

"However, the health and safety of our event participants and spectators is our top priority, and we believe that postponing the event is the responsible decision with the conditions and restrictions we are facing.

"We will continue to focus on ways we can enhance the customer experience in the months ahead, and I’m confident we will welcome fans with a transformed facility and a global spectacle when we run the world's greatest race."

There will be practice sessions at the track on August 12 and 13, with Fast Friday to come the following day. Indy 500 qualification will be staged on August 15-16.

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    Lewis Hamilton will begin the defence of his Formula One drivers' title four months later than initially planned as the 2020 campaign belatedly gets under way with the Austrian Grand Prix.

    The season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne was cancelled in March while teams were at the circuit during raceweek just as the coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdown measures started to take effect around the world.

    A full season schedule is yet to be confirmed, but eight races in Europe are due to take place, with the first two due to be held in consecutive weekends at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

    The first of those events in Austria begins at 15:10 local time (14:10 BST) on Sunday, with Mercedes driver Hamilton now a six-time world champion and within one crown of tying Michael Schumacher for the all-time record of seven.

     

    LAST TIME OUT

    If the last race seems like it was so long ago, it is because it was. This is the first race for more than seven months, with the last event of the 2019 season having been the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December.

    That grand prix was one of the least exciting of the campaign and saw Hamilton crown his title success with a dominant race victory, winning from pole position with Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc making up the remaining podium places.

    Valtteri Bottas charged through from the back of the grid to finish fourth, ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Alex Albon.

     

    WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN AUSTRIA

    While pre-season testing provides a guide, no one truly knows where each team stands with their cars until we have seen them in full competitive action.

    That is true for any season, but the delayed start to the 2020 campaign - and the chance of drivers being a little rusty - will have fans hoping the early races are more unpredictable than ever.

    Vettel has a point to prove in what will be his last season with Ferrari, though he may have a tough task after the team revealed they have had to make a major redesign to their car since testing, with those upgrades not available until Hungary.

    His replacement Carlos Sainz and McLaren-bound Daniel Ricciardo will also be in the spotlight after their 2021 moves were announced during lockdown, while Lando Norris revealed drivers have discussed taking a knee to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

    TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

    Three in a row for Max? - After finishing first in both 2018 and 2019, Red Bull's Verstappen is looking to become the first driver to win three Austrian Grands Prix in a row. He would also equal the overall record for Austria victories, held by Alain Prost (a winner in 1983, 1985 and 1986).

    Lewis looks to improve - Hamilton only has one win in Austria, which came in the 2016 season. Only in Australia (last win in 2015) has the British driver endured a longer winless run than in Austria of races that were in the 2019 schedule.

    Vettel nears landmark – The German needs a podium finish to reach 3,000 points in F1, a milestone only achieved by Hamilton (3,431).

    Good omen for Ferrari - The first grand prix of the previous two decades were both won by Ferrari in 2000 (Schumacher) and in 2010 (Fernando Alonso).

    History to be made - This will be the first F1 season to start with a race in Europe since the 1966 championship began in Monaco, while the Red Bull Ring will become the first-ever circuit to host back-to-back grands prix.

  • F1 2020: What has changed during the coronavirus delay? F1 2020: What has changed during the coronavirus delay?

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    The season had been due to get underway with the Australian Grand Prix in March, but it was cancelled after a member of the McLaren garage tested positive for COVID-19.

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    Vettel decision sparks driver changes

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    The German has yet to find another seat in F1, with Carlos Sainz to replace him at Ferrari and Daniel Ricciardo leaving Renault for McLaren.

    Toto Wolff confirmed Mercedes are monitoring Vettel's situation, though Valtteri Bottas claims he was told by the Silver Arrows there is nothing to the story.

    Renault are yet to disclose who will take Ricciardo's place in 2021, with a shock return for two-time champion Fernando Alonso mooted.

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    Mercedes manoeuvring

    A key member of Mercedes' six-year domination of F1 has left the team.

    Managing director Andy Cowell, who had direct responsibility for the F1 power unit, helped establish Mercedes at the pinnacle of the sport in his 16 years with the team, but Hywel Thomas took over from him on July 1.

    Mercedes team principal Wolff bought a stake in Aston Martin, which is controlled by Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll.

    Wolff insisted a personal investment "has nothing to do with Formula One", despite the fact Racing Point will be rebranded as Aston Martin on the 2021 grid.

    A push for diversity

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    The 35-year-old Briton subsequently partnered with the Royal Academy of Engineering to create The Hamilton Commission, looking at how more young people from black backgrounds can be brought into motorsport or be employed elsewhere in the field of engineering. F1 has also set up a new task force to increase diversity and inclusion in the sport.

    Mercedes signalled their commitment to fighting racism and discrimination by unveiling an all-black livery in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, switching from their traditional Silver Arrows design.

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    The Italian sustained the injury during a motocross race in Faenza and had a plate fixed to the bone to try to improve his recovery time.

    MotoGP's 2020 season will get under way in Jerez on July 19 and Ducati are confident he will be ready to race.

    "The surgery went well, and I want to thank all the medical team that did the operation so quickly. I don't feel much pain, and that makes me very optimistic," said Dovizioso in a statement published on Monday.

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    Ducati sports director Paolo Ciabatti said: "Although we know that motocross is an activity that presents several risks, we had still allowed Andrea to participate in this regional race, because he had explained to us that he needed to rediscover those stimuli and sensations that only a real competition can give.

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