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Formula 1 will alter calendar for coronavirus if needed

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PARIS — Formula One is closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak in China and will modify its race calendar if necessary.

Amid growing concern about the spread of the virus, international sports have been postponed and Olympic qualifying tournaments in soccer, basketball and boxing have been taken elsewhere.

The latest cancellation on Thursday was equestrian’s Asia Horse Week from Feb. 13-16 in Hong Kong, which is cutting rail links with mainland China as a precaution to limit the virus spreading.

The F1 race in Shanghai is scheduled for April 19 and may be at risk of being postponed or canceled.

The series’ governing body said in a statement Thursday it “will evaluate the calendar of its forthcoming races” under the supervision of medical commission president Gerard Saillant and, if necessary, “take any action required to help protect the global motor sport community and the wider public.”

The last F1 race to be canceled was the Bahrain GP in 2011 because of an uprising and violent protests.

The first race of 2020 is the Australian GP in Melbourne on March 15, followed by the Bahrain GP in Sakhir one week later, and the inaugural Vietnam GP in Hanoi on April 5.

On Wednesday, the indoor athletics world championships in Nanjing were postponed by one year to March 2021. The first alpine ski World Cup races next month at one of the 2022 Beijing Olympics courses in Yanqing were also called off.

More than 170 deaths in China have been recorded because of the disease.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).