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Australian Grand Prix called off due to Coronavirus concerns

Australian Grand Prix called off due to Coronavirus concerns
March 13, 2020

This weekend's Australian Formula One Grand Prix has been called off, according to an overnight news report by BBC Sport.

While there has been no official confirmation from Formula 1 or governing body the FIA, the BBC report is based on advice from "two senior F1 sources".

The move follows eight F1 workers have been assessed and tested for Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the McLaren team having withdrawn from the race after a crew member testing positive for coronavirus.

The situation rapidly developed throughout Thursday night in Melbourne and an announcement that the race will not take place is now expected.

World champion Lewis Hamilton said on Thursday at the official F1 news conference he was "very, very surprised" the sport was pressing on with plans to continue with the race while the global spread of the Coronavirus widened and other sports suspended or cancelled events.

The BBC reported that an initial meeting of team bosses with F1 and FIA officials on Thursday night, after a tense day in the paddock at Albert Park, broke up with an agreement to carry on with Friday practice as normal and review the situation later that day.

However, plans changed later in the evening as several insiders - including leading drivers - expressed their concerns about the idea of racing amid the risk of further cases of Coronavirus in the close-knit F1 paddock.

The decision was reviewed at later meetings and eventually, at around 2am Friday (Melbourne time), the decision was made to call the race off.

In addition to the eight F1 workers assessed and tested for COVID-19 (of whom seven were cleared on Thursday), Australian Grand Prix organisers said in a statement a ninth person had been assessed and tested, with the result pending.

This person was, according to the statement, "not associated with any F1 team, the FIA or associated suppliers", the statement said.

With the Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled to be the second meeting of the season on 22nd March, already planned to be held behind close doors and the Chinese Grand Prix cancelled, there are now serious questions as to how the F1 season will proceed.

F1 authorities and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation have faced criticism for their decision to press ahead with the season-opening race, with Lewis Hamilton saying "cash is king.”

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