Coronavirus: Ferrari takes immediate break as F1 shakes up 2020 calendar

Ferrari, based in hard-hit Italy, has taken up the chance of an immediate 21-day break after Formula One confirmed a change of plans.

Grid giant Ferrari said it "fully supports" the decisions made by F1 and the FIA.   -  Getty Images

Ferrari has paused its Formula One operations for the next 21 days after motorsport chiefs ordered all teams to take their shutdown break before the delayed season can begin.

F1 teams were told on Wednesday they must take a three-week break in March and April, when all racing has been suspended due to coronavirus.

Grid giant Ferrari has opted to immediately seize the opportunity to shut down for that span, saying it "fully supports" the decision by F1 and motorsport's world governing body the FIA.

"Scuderia Ferrari will therefore be shut as from tomorrow, Thursday 19 March, up to Thursday 8 April inclusive," the Italian team said.

"The priority for the team has always been the safety of its employees and their families, which is why, for several days now work in the Maranello facility has been suspended, replaced where possible by a smart working system."

Italy remains Europe's worst-hit nation by the COVID-19 pandemic, having suffered more than 2,900 deaths.

READ | F1 CEO apologises for disruption, pledges to resume season when possible

F1 races in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam and China have been postponed already this season, with no prospect of competition beginning until May at the earliest.

By moving the traditional mid-season break and asking teams to instead down tools in the coming weeks, F1 hopes some of the postponed races may be able to take place on vacant August weekends. August 9, 16 and 23 currently are blank on the F1 calendar.

Ferrari's statement added: "We are just as disappointed as our fans that we cannot be racing, as we have done for over 70 years, but when confronted by a situation as serious as this one, it is vital that we follow the advice of the authorities and limit all activities as much as possible in order to contain the virus as efficiently as possible.

"We will wait for the situation to improve so that we can return to normality, in our daily lives as well as in sport, including motor racing. In the meantime, our thoughts are with everyone affected by the virus and those working on the front line to combat it. Maintaining our distance, but still united, this virus can be defeated."

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