Formula 1 has called off this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. The Melbourne-based race was slated to be the first of the F1 season.
The uncertainty around this season’s scheduling has set Formula One Group’s stock tumbling. It has lost 45% of its market value since the beginning of the year, wiping away about $5 billion in value.
The last-minute decision came after McLaren Racing announced its withdrawal from the Australian race, following the positive test of a team member for the coronavirus.
Race staff from the ten teams have already arrived in Melbourne. That includes the entire Ferrari team who entered Australia before the country restricted travelers from Italy.
The league makes most of its money by selling race sponsorships and broadcasting rights. Fewer races means less money. A record-high 22 races were scheduled to take place in as many countries this year. Ten teams, mostly European, have been planning to overcome significant logistical hurdles to follow an intense, inter-continental race calendar. Broadcasters could exercise their rights to pay a reduced fees if a certain number of races aren’t held, according to a company financial filing.
League authorities postponed the Chinese Grand Prix on Feb. 12, at the request of its Chinese partners. It was the fourth race of the season and scheduled for April 19. Officials have decided to run the March 22 Bahrain Grand Prix as scheduled, but without spectators, after consulting the Bahrain’s health task force.
Formula One is now trading below the price when it was bought by Liberty Media for $8 billion in early 2017.