Coronavirus forces FIA and F1 to ‘cancel all activity’ in Melbourne
The Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled following the confirmation that a member of the McLaren F1 team tested positive for coronavirus.
An official statement from the FIA, Formula One and the organisers of the Australian GP, said: “Following the confirmation that a member of the McLaren Racing Team has tested positive for COVID-19 and the team’s decision to withdraw from the Australian Grand Prix, the FIA and Formula 1 convened a meeting of the other nine team principals on Thursday evening. Those discussions concluded with a majority view of the teams that the race should not go ahead.
“The FIA and Formula 1, with the full support of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) have therefore taken the decision that all Formula 1 activity for the Australian Grand Prix is cancelled.”
The statement added that while it was “disappointing news for the thousands of fans due to attend the race”, ticket holders will receive a full refund.
“All parties took into consideration the huge efforts of the AGPC, Motorsport Australia, staff and volunteers to stage the opening round of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship in Melbourne,” the FIA continued, “however they concluded that the safety of all members of the Formula 1 family and the wider community, as well as the fairness of the competition take priority.”
McLaren announced on Thursday morning that it had withdrawn from the race after a team member had tested positive for COVID-19, and a number of drivers had previously expressed concerns over the event, with Lewis Hamilton saying he was “very, very surprised” that the teams had even travelled to Melbourne. Indeed, an hour before the official FIA confirmation, Mercedes’s F1 team released a statement calling for the race to be cancelled, noting the “wellbeing of our team members and of the wider F1 community” took priority.
Ferrari “fully supported” the cancellation of the race, and said: “We feel very sorry for the fans who were due to come to Albert Park and support the Formula 1 race with all their usual enthusiasm, as well as all those who would have been watching from around the world.
Red Bull added: “We share the disappointment of Formula One fans, but the safety of the teams, fans, media and circuit staff remains of absolute priority. We now await further information from the FIA on the status of future races.”
Indeed, the behind-closed-doors Bahrain Grand Prix, currently scheduled for the 22 March, could be the 2020 season opener – although the 14-day isolation period could also put that at risk.
The Chinese Grand Prix has already been postponed, while April’s Vietnam GP looks to be at risk too.