Ferrari, Albert Park, Melbourne, 2020

Drivers and teams react to 11th-hour Australian Grand Prix cancellation

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1 drivers and their teams have reacted to the late cancellation of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. Here’s what they had to say:

Scuderia Ferrari fully supports the decision taken by the FIA and Formula 1 in conjunction with the Australian Grand Prix Corporation to cancel the Australian Grand Prix (13 to 15 March) at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit.

The safety of all team members is our number one priority, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve rapidly.

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.

We’ll have to wait a bit longer to get back in the car. I was really looking forward to get back behind the wheel but this is the best decision, the health of everyone is the priority. Stay safe everyone.
Charles Leclerc

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Sadly, this is the right decision. No one wants this, we all want to get in our cars and get racing, but we have to be realistic and we must put health and safety first. The reality is, this is really serious with people dying every day, lots of people ill and even if they are not ill, many people being affected financially and emotionally. No one really knows the extent of what we are dealing with, but we should all take precautions to keep as many people as safe as possible. I know it’s disappointing, as sport unites us when times are tough, but it’s the right call. Listen to the advice everyone, keep safe. Hope to be back racing soon but in the meantime look after yourselves. We are all in this together whether you like it or not. This is affecting all of us around the world, our family’s and friends. We are all the same. I’m so sad to be faced with the reality that we will not be racing but this decision will save lives. For the fans who saved up and came all this way, I’m so sorry for you. Please remember you can’t put a price on health. Take care of yourselves.
Lewis Hamilton

I’m devastated I can’t compete at my home GP here in Melbourne & get the season started. Ultimately though the right decision has been made & I think everyone can understand this is something we’ve never seen before. Sorry to all fans who came out for the support. Much love.
Daniel Ricciardo

Following confirmation from Formula One, the FIA and AGPC that the Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled, and in light of the force majeure events we are experiencing with regards to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Team’s focus now shifts to ensuring that all personnel return home as safely and quickly as possible and that all necessary precautions are taken in line with Government and World Health Organisation guidelines.

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.
Red Bull

Renault DP World F1 Team acknowledges and fully supports the decision of F1 and the FIA to cancel the 2020 Australian Grand Prix. We are disappointed not to be able to race in front of the passionate Australian fans who have shown such support of our team and Daniel, however the health and safety of our team members and the wider F1 community is of paramount importance.

Our thoughts are also with our partner team, McLaren Racing as they deal with a confirmed case of Covid-19.

Will have to wait some more days to get officially back racing. Of course, very disappointed but this is the best decision for us drivers, teams and fans. Hopefully the whole situation will get better soon. Stay safe.
Esteban Ocon

In light of the recent events in Melbourne, with the confirmation of one case of COVID-19 within the paddock, Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN welcomes the decision by the FIA, Formula 1 and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation to cancel the 2020 Australian Grand Prix for genuine force majeure circumstances.

The health and safety of our team personnel, as well as of our guests, fellow competitors, Formula One personnel and fans, is our main priority and we support this decision in our commitment to ensure we do our utmost to keep each one of our team members safe.
Alfa Romeo

Haas F1 Team accepts the decision to cancel the 2020 Australian Grand Prix and all Formula 1 activity scheduled in Melbourne as announced in the joint statement between Formula 1, the FIA and with the support of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC).

The safety and health of everyone involved in the running of the event is paramount, as is that of the thousands of fans who had invested in attending the Australian Grand Prix, and while disappointed not to be able to compete this weekend in Melbourne – and share that passion for Formula 1, Haas F1 Team accepts the subsequent actions taken by the parties concerned in light of the circumstances faced by the global Covid-19 situation.

No race here in Melbourne. Feels like a big thing for us as we prepared very hard for it but actually a very small thing compare to the challenge the world is facing right now. Stay safe everyone and try to fight Covid-19 as much as you can.
Romain Grosjean

Was so pumped to go racing this weekend, but the safety, health and well being of everyone is by far the most important thing and this was the right thing to do. Stay safe everyone and look after each other.
Kevin Magnussen

Rokit Williams Racing fully supports the decision taken by the FIA, Formula 1 and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation to cancel this weekend’s (13-15 March) 2020 FIA Formula One Australian Grand Prix.

Whilst the decision, taken after confirmation that a member of another team has tested positive for Covid-19, will sadly deprive the many loyal fans in Melbourne the chance to see the race, the safety of both every member of the team, and the fans, is absolutely the priority.

Can’t remember ever being more excited for a race weekend than this one – but cancelling was absolutely the right call. Everybody’s safety has to come first. Stay safe people.
George Russell

Stay safe everyone, and let’s hope this whole COVID-19 situation gets better soon. Shame we can’t race here in Australia, but keeping everybody health & safety is priority. Was really looking forward to start the season, but we will have to wait. Lets hope for better news soon.
Pierre Gasly

Like all motor racing fans, we are very disappointed that the Australian Grand Prix will not take place. However, given the escalating situation regarding the Coronavirus, which is now classified as a pandemic, the decision to cancel the event, taken by the FIA, Formula 1 and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, is the right one. The health and safety of our workforce has to be our main priority and, as a team based in Italy, we are also aware of the worsening situation back in Europe, which is worrying for all our staff.

Formula 1 will recover from this situation, and we rely on its governing body and the commercial rights holder to monitor the situation and guide all the F1 teams accordingly.
Scuderia AlphaTauri

It goes without saying that I was extremely excited to finally make my debut in Formula 1 this weekend but it will have to wait. The safety and well being of everyone involved has to be the priority. Stay safe everyone and hopefully we can go racing sometime soon.
Nicholas Latifi

Pirelli acknowledges the decision taken by Formula 1, the FIA, and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation to cancel this weekend’s grand prix. As a partner of the championship, Pirelli understands and fully agrees with this decision, taken following the recent health issues that have affected the world. We are obviously very disappointed for all the Formula 1 fans who came to Melbourne to see the first race of the season.
Mario Isola

This article will be updated.

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Josh Holland
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31 comments on “Drivers and teams react to 11th-hour Australian Grand Prix cancellation”

  1. Ticket holders will receive their money back, 2 toilet rolls and tub of hand cleaner to compensate them for the pathetic lack of leadership by the FIA and F1. Fingers cross they won’t be taking home a dose of Covid-19 to pass onto family and friends.

    1. I disagree this was lack of leadership. Things have changed rapidly in just the last few days and they had to pack up and get themselves to Australia well before that. Here in Toronto just two nights ago there was a Maple Leafs Hockey game with full attendance, and they had another game tonight but now the NHL has suspended all activity as has the NBA.

      1. Can’t help but agree with you on this @robbie given the myriad of factors that have needed to be taken into account. Hard decision to make, but hopefully they’ve made it soon enough.

      2. They allowed fans to amass outside the gates this morning. When gatherings of people are the very thing the medical professionals want us to avoid. Tell me that’s not a lack of leadership. The Aus GP is not a new event, anyone could predict what the crowds would be like in the morning. And yet they chose the standard FIA tactic of stoic silence until much later.

        Forget brave leadership like cancelling the GP in advance. You know what a sensible compromise would have been in the last few hours? Announce on Thursday afternoon/evening (Aus time) that Friday’s sessions are closed off to the public. Buying them time to have their Friday morning meeting and make the cancellation announcement, and at the same time ensuring fans don’t end up needlessly travelling and waiting, and especially so in close confines of public transit. And if they chose to proceed with the GP, then they could still annouce that Sat/Sun were open. Yet they made arguably the worst decision, one of not communicating.

        You often have a sympathetic take on the FIA and Liberty and I respect you for that stance (even if we often disagree on specific topics), but this is just being an apologist for them.

        1. @phylyp I just think that is easier said than done and using the perfection of hindsight a bit, but I too respect your opinion. As I said here in Toronto the decision to not hold hockey and basketball games was only made this afternoon and last night respectively. This is so new, I doubt F1 or FIA will be accused of ‘allowing people to amass,’ like they did so with blatant disregard for people. All of this is in the abundance of caution, so the odds that someone who went to Albert Park and got turned around will contract the virus and will then parish from it, is extremely small. Especially if they are already aware and are washing their hands properly and not touching their faces. Nobody forced them to go there hoping the practice was happening. They could have decided it wasn’t worth being in a crowd, all on their own, but went to a public event of their own free will anyway.

          But your example compromise of what they could have done would have the teams congregating for at least one day, that would only just be getting going around now as I text this, while they ‘bought time,’ but it turns out they didn’t feel that was safe either, so is that you being cavalier with the people within F1 being forced to amass on Friday just to buy themselves time?

          1. I think you have your timezone confused. @phylyp was clearly talking in Australian time, and he is right.

            Leadership is not just making the right decision, but making timely decisions. Waiting until people amass to decide they should not actually be together is not a timely decision. They literally had all night to make this call and could have announced it at 5 or even 6am with a quick tweet followed by a full press release.

            Maybe it was money, indecision or just a conservative coms team but none of that should have delayed what was an obvious decision. Pretty likely before the event even started, but once the virus was in the paddock there was no other choice.

        2. @phylyp it has to be said that, only a few days earlier, we’d had the Chief Medical Officer stating “I’m not feeling at all concerned going to mass gatherings or walking down the streets in Victoria, so I don’t think that there’s a risk at the Grand Prix.”. Up until fairly recently, the advice they were receiving seems to have been telling them that it was OK to go ahead – I’d agree that the poor communication was certainly bad, but it has to be said that the regional and national authorities do have some part to play as well, given the advice they were issuing at the time.

          1. Yeah, that’s a very good point. I think we have enough of our Aussie brethren sharpening pitchforks for their regional (and wider) leadership, so I’ll leave them to it.

            I’m just saying that as a global circus that visits a different country roughly every fortnight, maybe F1 ought to have been ahead of the curve when making decisions, and not tamely hiding behind the coattails of the Medical Officer just because he was making favourable statements.

            I look to McLaren as a good example, pulling out and imposing quarantines on themselves even when it took them out of contention for points, and therefore prize money over this (and most likely the next) round.

            I’d also look to other sports and motorsport series (like Formula E) who had no hesitation in making a firm decision in days in advance.

      3. @Robbie

        A hockey game in Canada doesn’t have competitors and spectators coming from around the world.

        One fifth of the teams travelled from a country that has a significant number of deaths caused by the virus. The delay in making a decision was purely based on money. Allowing thousands of people to travel and then queue up for practice was unnecessary. F1 will be in deep trouble should anyone who attended this morning who catches the virus and subsequently passes away. Many races depend upon local politicians getting support from residents (voters), we’ve seen the problems in Miami when that support evaporates. Don’t be surprised if Aus and possibly other races are lost to F1 after this nonsense.

        1. John Bee Yes the cold hard reality is that so far globally the numbers of deaths are tiny compared to normal flu bugs and many other things that kill far far more people every day let alone every year. The economic impact globally is going to be far far more devastating for far far many more people than will get the virus and not survive it, who are mainly people over 70 years old, and while that may sound cavalier, it is only in the last 24 to 48 hours that the realization has hit us that we best put things on pause.

          But just don’t make it sound like anybody that considers the money side of this is cold and evil. It is going to cost the globe likely trillions of dollars and likely far more deaths from poverty etc from the global economy grinding to a halt. Until just today it was still ok to consider the globe’s economic reality in this too, especially since there are far far bigger killers on the planet that we don’t put the world on pause for while we figure out the fix. Making money to feed ourselves is a global reality too, and I bet millions of small business owners who were just scraping by, are now destitute. It isn’t evil to try to keep working and keep an income if at all possible when there are mouths to feed. It isn’t evil to try to cling to normalcy until the very last moment possible in such a fluid situation.

          1. You sound like Chase Carey with that fluidity talk. They knew the virus was an issue for months. They postponed the Chinese Grand Prix a month ago. Bahrain previously declared no spectators with enough warning if given to Australia, that fans would have stayed home and gotten refunds for their travel and accommodations. Bahrain is not even significantly impacted from the virus. They even raced in Bahrain before when there was civil unrest. We can’t give them the benefit of the doubt for fluidity when prior they had already had doubts about other races on the calendar. No excuse for them.

          2. When was the last time the flu caused hospitals to be overwhelmed? When did it get so bad countries started building new hospitals and writing guidelines about who should get ICU care? If we are lucky, most of the world will see it just as a flu, but it could get much worse if we just assume all is ok.

          3. My Italian ICU and anaesthetic colleagues are not remotely flippant about who this is affecting.

            They’re seeing their units bursting at the seams. They’re seeing fit, healthy 20 somethings with severe ARDS and dying.

            The preparation work in my and other nearby hospitals where friends and colleagues work is utterly unprecedented in scale.

            I must say I’m getting increasingly angry at people who bury their heads in the sand about this. F1 buried their heads and stuck their fingers in their ears and in the process, put thousands of people at risk and flip-flopped for too long.

          4. They’re seeing fit, healthy 20 somethings with severe ARDS and dying.

            @mouse_nightshirt – that is not a good sign, that is both concerning and saddening. Until now indications were that mortality rate was directly proportional to the age of the afflicted, with the 60-and-over at greatest risk. Do they know why such young and fit people are dying? Was it just detection/intervention left too late?

          5. They’re seeing fit, healthy 20 somethings with severe ARDS and dying.

            Reports are saying the youngest person to die in Italy was 55.

          6. They’re seeing fit, healthy 20 somethings with severe ARDS and dying.

            “ARDS” = “Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome” =
            “Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a condition that causes fluid to build up in your lungs so oxygen can’t get to your organs.

            Fluid leaks from small blood vessels and collects in tiny air sacs in your lungs so they can’t fill with enough air. Because of this, your blood can’t pick up the oxygen it needs to carry to the rest of your body. Organs such as your kidneys or brain might not work the way they should or might shut down.

            ARDS is sometimes life-threatening and can get worse quickly. But it’s generally treatable, and most people recover. Fast diagnosis and treatment are important.”

      4. Sorry @robbie, have to agree with @phylyp on this one.

        Terrible leadership. –
        Starting with “postponing” China – should have been cancelled because there’s no way of shoehorning it into the calendar.
        In reality, they could see where tis was heading and should have been considering everything from a Global perspective, not just a local one, and realised that putting so many people on planes to attend an event was just madness.
        As late as yesterday evening had a chance to step up and have the meetings that were held this morning held last night (they should have absolutely insisted that no one sleep until a decision was made) but no, they let it drag on and caused a large number of people to gather at the entry gates.
        Let’s not even talk about the debacle at the gates this morning and just hope that no one has been exposed to the virus as a result.

        Governments by their very nature are slow to react and make decisions – organisations like those running F1 shouldn’t be and I find it pretty poor that the teams themselves had to be the ones that forced the issue.

      5. Lets call it what it is. FYRE FEST 2.0. It is the most expensive sport in the world. With the amount of money involved, especially for the fans, if there is reasonable doubt as to the status of the grand prix due to a serious event like this, you need to make a preventative decision well in advance for at the very least, the fan’s interests. The fans who had tickets were not consulted in whether the race went on. Races are held at venues based on fan’s desire. Fans will not be consulted in compensation measures. The fans got the shaft, and I hope a class action suit gets brought forth for compensation, and another one if someone contracts the virus and travelled to the city specifically for the race.

    2. My thoughts exactly. It’s pretty easy to say for the privileged class that doesn’t see this as a huge financial impact of showing up and going home. What about the fans who paid good money, many in advance, to show up and may not have work to return to when they get back and an economy that is collapsing because of the virus. The fans didn’t have a voice in the decision, nor compensation negotiation.

  2. Haven’t commented here in ages but wanted to say that it’s hard to believe a sporting event of this magnitude created such a mess in what should’ve been an entirely predictable situation.

    Should Liberty be forgiven for having not personally been respsonsible for the the six-car debacle that was the 2005 USGP? Refunded or not, I say no.

    F1 has to be better than what transpired today.

    1. And F1 left America for years after. One person even asked the organizers tonight if the taxpayers of Victoria had to foot the bill for what went into the event given that it was cancelled. The response was that there would be talks with their corporate partners. Depending on how this goes, the taxpayers may decide to pull the plug from Melbourne.

  3. Luddites that is what you are. The harm if any is already done and now you destroy the sport alongside it. Everyone is there!
    Global hysteria…

    1. They are just a pawn themself, i dont know who could stop this mass hysteria.

  4. Is it only me that find strange we have not heard from Racing Point or their drivers yet?

    1. I have no idea why they didn’t comment. I think they had a lot to prove this season, so not being able to race will have been a big disappointment for them.

      1. it will be “Yes – what Mercedes said” when they do comment of course :)

  5. Murray tippins
    13th March 2020, 8:23

    Why did the named drivers leave before the event was cancelled did they know something no one else did

    1. They probably figured out what was going to happen before the call was made (perhaps being assisted in this by advice from their own advisors or those in their teams), or believed one of the several false reports that preceded the true cancellation.

  6. If George Russell is correct when he said “Everybody’s safety has to come first”, then there will never be another F1 race.

    Not just because of the Covid-19 virus, but all safety aspects.

    1. Fun but I have to disagree: coronavirus aside, f1 nowadays is INCREDIBLY safe, if racing in f1 is deemed dangerous, then you can’t drive a car in the road any more, cause it’s more dangerous.

  7. Not sure what they think might be different for any of the remaining races this year. If cancelling this race was the right decision (as opposed to say having it without public attendance) then wouldn’t it also be the right decision for all the other races?

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