Formula One has confirmed that the Dutch, Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix have all been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The three races were due to take place in May, meaning the earliest the new season can now start is on June 7 in Azerbaijan.
The announcement follows a crunch conference call involving FIA president Jean Todt, F1 bosses Chase Carey and Ross Brawn and the 10 team principals on Thursday.
A joint statement from F1 and the FIA read: “In view of the continued global spread of COVID-19 and after ongoing discussions with Formula One and the three promoters, it has today been confirmed that the Dutch Grand Prix 2020, Spanish Grand Prix 2020 and Monaco Grand Prix 2020 will be postponed.
“Due to the ongoing and fluid nature of the COVID-19 situation globally, the FIA, Formula One and the three promoters have taken these decisions in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains our primary concern.
“The FIA and Formula One continue to work closely with affected promoters and local authorities to monitor the situation and take the appropriate amount of time to study the viability of potential alternative dates for each Grand Prix later in the year should the situation improve.
“The FIA and Formula One expect to begin the 2020 Championship season as soon as it is safe to do so after May and will continue to regularly monitor the ongoing COVID-19 situation.”
Thursday’s announcement means the opening seven races have now been postponed after the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled and the events in Bahrain, Vietnam and China suspended.
It is hoped that the Dutch Grand Prix, the first F1 race to be staged in Holland since 1985, can be rescheduled for August.
But there is deep uncertainty over whether there will be room in a rejigged calendar for the rounds in Spain, which had been scheduled for May 10, and Monaco, originally pencilled in for May 24.
The potential loss of the Monaco Grand Prix would come as a huge blow to the sport’s owners, Liberty Media – with the prestigious race having been staged every year since 1955.
During the summit, it was also agreed in principle to freeze the introduction of the 2021 regulations by one year.
The provisional move is in place so teams, desperately worried about the financial hit of a reduced calendar, do not have to spend money building a new car.
The teams will also be more flexible with Liberty on the development of a new schedule which could mean the staging of three races in succession and the shortening of grands prix weekends with practice on Friday potentially axed.