Formula 1: Australian Grand Prix called off due to coronavirus

Formula 1: Australian Grand Prix called off due to coronavirus

The Australian Grand Prix has finally been called off, despite the Formula 1 bosses wanting it to take place. The decision to cancel the race was made early on Friday morning after a McLaren team member tested positive for the coronavirus in Melbourne. However, the decision was made public only eight hours later. During those eight hours Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel had already flown home, along with Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen. 

Team McLaren revealed that 14 of their staff had been placed in quarantine in their hotel for the next 14 days because of their close contact with the infected employee. The rest of the Formula 1 season is now in danger, next weekend's race in Bahrain is planned to take place without spectators but might get cancelled as well. Mercedes requested the cancellation of the Melbourne race in an official letter, but all the teams were already in agreement with that. 

Mercedes said: "We share the disappointment of the sport's fans that this race cannot go ahead as planned. However, the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our team members and of the wider F1 community are our absolute priority. In light of the force majeure events we are experiencing with regards to the coronavirus pandemic, we no longer feel the safety of our employees can be guaranteed if we continue to take part in the event. If organisers try to press ahead with the weekend it appears at this stage as if not all the teams will take part." 

World champion Lewis Hamilton said on Thursday at the official F1 news conference he was quite surprised that the Formula 1 bosses planned to continue with the race while the outbreak of the virus led to the suspension of numrous events worldwide. A decision is also expected on the Vietnam Grand Prix, which is scheduled for 5 April, after the government in Hanoi banned travel into the country for anyone who has been in Italy in the previous 14 days. 

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