After long discussions between Formula One, FIA, teams and the organisers, the 2020 Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix has been officially called off amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The Australian GP was scheduled for this weekend despite the ever-worsening situation regarding the COVID-19. The sport was adamant to implement the necessary precautionary measurements to ensure that the season opener could go ahead.
However, McLaren have confirmed on Thursday that a team member has tested positive for the coronavirus. As a result, the Woking-based outfit has withdrawn from the race, casting doubt on the race weekend.
Following meetings between the race organisiers, FOM, FIA an the teams, the governing body and the Commerical Rights’ Holders have issued a statement in which they announced that the Australian Grand Prix has been called off amind the coronavirus outbreak.
„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 read.
A difficult decision
The decision to cancel the race weekend was a result of long meetings and was a tough one to take. The sport was willing to hold the season-opener as planned, but it has become doubtful when several team and media members showed symptoms of the coronavirus.
Although four members of the Haas outfit have been cleared, a McLaren team member has tested positive, urging the outfit’s CEO Zak Brown to pull out his squad of the race at Melbourne.
After McLaren’s decisions, the sport held a team meeting to discuss on whether to carry on racing. The vote ended in 5-5. Despite the discussions, no official decision has been made and organisers insisted that Friday schedule could go ahead as normal.
At 9 a.m. Friday, the paddock opened for business, but only six teams turned up with McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault showing no signs. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed in the morning if the race goes ahead it will not be open to spectators.
Two hours before the start of the first free practice session, Formula One and FIA issued a joint statement, confirming the cancellation of the race.