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Super Formula season opener postponed due to coronavirus

by Elliot Wood

Super Formula’s pre-season test and season opening race at Suzuka have been cancelled due to the spread of Wuhan novel coronavirus in Japan.

The first of SF’s two March tests was to take place at Suzuka in one week’s time, and a decision to close off the adjacent hotel to the circuit and general admission passes fuelled speculation that the test would be cancelled.

A postponement was confirmed to be the case in a circuit statement on Monday, which also revealed that the circuit’s traditional season opening slot on April 5 will be lost and rescheduled for a later date.

Akira Kurashita, president of the Japan Race Promotion company behind SF, said the series if fully behind Suzuka’s decisions even though its has put Japan’s premier single-seater series down six races.

The circuit decision also impacts the supporting Super Formula Lights, previously known as Japanese Formula 3.

Fuji Speedway is now provisionally the location of the only pre-season test on March 24/25, and is also where the racing season will begin on April 19.

Suzuka still appears on the SF calendar as the location of the season finale on November 15, as well as the host of post-season testing.

If the coronavirus situation leads to further disruption for the SF calendar with the cancellation of two or more races, with the the threat of typhoon weather also prone to appearing during the year and preventing on-track action, it could put the FIA superlicence status of the season at risk.

This would be a particular blow for B-MAX Racing with Motopark’s Pietro Fittipaldi and Team Mugen’s Red Bull junior Juri Vips, who are both in the series to earn superlicence points for targeted Formula 1 debuts in 2021.