Albert Park, Melbourne, 2020

F1 insists “our priority is safety” as McLaren withdraw from race over Coronavirus

2020 Australian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 insists it is committed to the safety of all participants after McLaren withdrew from the Australian Grand Prix following a positive Coronavirus test.

A member of the team was tested for the virus yesterday and put in self-isolation. After a positive test result was returned, McLaren took the decision to pull out of the race weekend.

Formula 1 Management issued the following statement in response to the development.

“Following the outcome of the test on a member the McLaren team, F1 and FIA have been in close contact with them on their decision and have been co-ordinating with all relevant authorities on next steps.

“Our priority is the safety of the fans, teams and all personnel at the race.”

McLaren was one of two teams who had staff members isolated and tested after exhibiting possible Coronavirus symptoms. The other, Haas, put four staff in isolation, but all were cleared after testing negative for the virus.

The Australian Grand Prix Corporation confirmed a total of nine people have been tested for the Coronavirus. Seven have been cleared, one is the McLaren employee who tested positive, and the outcome of the test on the ninth individual is not yet known. “This individual is not associated with any Formula 1 team, the FIA or associated suppliers,” said the AGPC in a statement.

RaceFans understands a meeting will be held early tomorrow morning in Melbourne to discuss whether the race should go ahead. Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews and Victoria chief medical officer Andrew Wilson are among those who will attend.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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12 comments on “F1 insists “our priority is safety” as McLaren withdraw from race over Coronavirus”

  1. They must cancel the Grand Prix and test everyone for this virus as soon as possible, send home those who don’t have it.

    1. I know things are already spent, but FIA should postpone the 2021 rules to 2022, and postpone the 2020 season as long as needed. Maybe they could run a 2020-2021 championship? With the last races of this season (let’s say 4 or 5?) And then race the ones that were affected next year. With the 2020 cars regulations. That would save teams from having spent all the R&D for this season in vain. For small teams, spending that much for nothing could be an unrecoverable way to quitting the sport.

      1. That’s a bit unrealistic, I would say, the processes or developing the new cars as well as the business agreements are now too far to be substantially altered. I think the worst case scenario would be that the spring part of the season gets completely called off and we get a situation when the teams either completely shift their attention to 2021 or, more interestingly, develop their cars later into this season which might make the 2021 more unpredictable.

      2. Not at all. Rather, the teams can have something constructive to do while they keep their crew at home in doing all sorts of development work for 2021 @omarr-pepper

  2. I would have thought they have two options: Run the race but without spectators OR, cancel.
    I’ll be glad to watch the race on Sunday but I can’t help but feel this could cause more problems than it’s worth.

    1. @racerjoss Legally, they don’t have the first option – unless they can also find a way to run the race without F1 crews exiting quarantine.

  3. And, cue E-Sports F1 for the 2020 season. Hopefully, afterward, fans will still want the real thing

  4. According to BBC news in UK the race has been called off.

  5. RaceFans understands a meeting will be held early tomorrow morning in Melbourne to discuss whether the race should go ahead. Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews and Victoria chief medical officer Andrew Wilson are among those who will attend.

    The gathering of the teams for the start of this season in Melbourne took a lot of courage. It also took a lot of courage for McLaren to decide at almost the last moment to withdraw from the event.
    One of the most important points about driving is you can’t please everyone, for every decision you make there’s someone who could argue it was wrong and that you should have done something different. Whether it was right or not to gather together to race at Melbourne is beside the point, all the teams, media, and officials did. Now, besides the usual weekend decisions that have to be made, there are even more important decisions to be made, and now, besides courage, wisdom is required too.
    While I would really like the event to go ahead, I’m beginning to suspect the right thing to do is cancel it and the next few races too.

    1. Iā€™m beginning to suspect the right thing to do is cancel it and the next few races too.

      Maybe Shanghai could be the first race. They had ‘only’ 344 confirmed cases (a lot less than most other hosts) and more than 90% already recovered.

      1. @coldfly I’m pretty sure China is not allowing anyone in from affected countries as they’re finally getting their outbreak it under control. That would be asking for a second wave.

        I don’t think we can expect any races for the next couple of months at least.

  6. Obviously the first priority was not safety, otherwise this gathering would not have happened in the first place. Compare FIA’s/F1’s response to any other major sport (MotoGP, NHL, NBA, Formula E etc.) and there is a huge difference.

    Much like the situation in 2011 in Bahrain, F1 just refuses to face the real world at times.

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