Albert Park, Melbourne, 2020

Fans queue outside F1 track gates as premier says they won’t be allowed in

2020 Australian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 fans were not allowed into Albert Park when the circuit gates were due to open on Friday morning amid confusion over whether the first round of the world championship will go ahead.

The race has been thrown into confusion after McLaren announced it has withdrawn from the season-opening round of the championship after one of its team members tested positive for Coronavirus.

Footage on social media (below) showed fans waiting at the entrance to the track after the gates were due to open at 8:45am local time, just over three hours before F1 practice was due to begin. The fans were told: “We apologise for any delays however gate opening has been delayed while we’re working through today’s programming and scheduling, thank you for your patience.”

However doubt remains over whether they will be allowed in. Victoria premier Daniel Andrews has said fans will not be allowed to attend the race – if it goes ahead – on the advice of Victoria’s chief health officer.

“There’s been events at the grand prix,” said Andrews, as reported by The Guardian. “They have been wildly reported. There has been elements around the world.

“The chief health officer updated his advice. That’s been communicated to grand prix organisers. Now they are making the choice between no event or an event without fans. But at the very least, there will be no fans at the grand prix this weekend.”

Further withdrawals among the F1 teams are also thought likely. RaceFans understands Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have already begun making their way home from the track.

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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...

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24 comments on “Fans queue outside F1 track gates as premier says they won’t be allowed in”

  1. Stephen Higgins
    12th March 2020, 22:28

    If the number of cars taking part drops below 16, isn’t the grand prix cancelled automatically ??

    1. If reports are true, only Red Bull Toro Rosso (or whatever they’re called now) want to race

      1. Williams will say “its our time to shine!”

  2. Omnishambles.

  3. This is going to be such a magnificent disgrace. Like, F1 simply cannot walk out with their head up, they need to be humiliated horribly. I suppose the whole comedy goes down to FIA/Liberty, the local race organizers and the local government not wanting to be the one who come with the decision so they won’t have to carry the financial burden of cancelling the race. Lord, what an absolute…

    1. Yes, I think the whole mess is all parties trying to be the one not to wear the financial burden of a cancelled event. In the meantime they all look like monkeys and the fans are paying for it. I expect the reputation of F1 to take a serious blow from this.

  4. The FIA, F1, race organisers and Ferrari have made a decision, but have chosen not to make it public.

    1. Well played!

    2. @jon bee

    3. Duh. Obviously they need permission from the corona virus before they can publicize these details.

  5. Um, I have no medical qualifications, but… isn’t forcing people to group up outside the gates like that “a bad thing”?

    You know, instead of just issuing a proper statement in advance, like Thursday pm, or worse still, Friday early am?

    It’s not like the virus will strike only when they reach the stands.

    This is a disgrace. It is patently clear that FIA and FOM have money as their first priority over the well-being of their fans, despite their claims to the contrary. They’re afraid to pull the trigger on a cancellation just so that various contractual clauses won’t be triggered, and want someone else to do it for them (i.e. force majeure, due to a call by the authorities, which presumably gives them an out, or the drivers/teams to be seen as the ones calling for a cancellation).

    1. Summed up precisely and to the point. The only thing that saves them is that the majority of Western (i.e. European and American) audience is asleep so they don’t witness the farce.

    2. Pretty much summed it up.

      They had the time to decide this and make the announcement last night.

      Mind you they had the time to cancel the event at the beginning of the week before thousands of people got into planes to travel there but then that would have been a responsible thing to do wouldn’t it.

      1. Mind you they had the time to cancel the event at the beginning of the week before thousands of people got into planes to travel there but then that would have been a responsible thing to do wouldn’t it.

        @dbradock – yeah, that would have been ideal, but as you say, that might have been expecting too much of the powers that be. :)

        I made the following comment on another article, but it applies here as well:

        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.

  6. Im working at the track, just wondering when we’ll be sent home, no pay for the weekend of course, massive hit to the economy…

    On the bright side less chance of dying so that’s a win!

  7. So the race was cancelled but no one wanted to be one to publicly announce it as they would be liable for the financial losses to the other relevant organisations?

    1. At the end of the day the teams pulled out so whether they want to announce it or not that’s the way it’s gone…

  8. They were clearly waiting for the other part to take the burden of the cancelation.
    Massive irresponsibility on all the parts.

    Couldn’t Austrália health authorities and government (either local or national) pull the trigger and forbid all the mass sporting events?

    1. They had been doing the opposite and encouraging people to go about things as normal until now, so the odds of that happening were probably pretty low.

  9. petebaldwin (@)
    12th March 2020, 23:14

    This really is a new low for F1…. Coronavirus has affected sports all around the world and I can’t think of a single one that’s been handled anywhere near as badly as this. It’s like watching a movie where the baddie dies because he fails to escape a collapsing building as he’s weighed down by gold – Can’t….leave….the……money…..behind……..

    1. Good analogy! Or Homer Simpson chasing a runaway pig roast all over town after Lisa sabotages his meat lovers barbecue. “it’s good, it’s still good” until way past the point of no return.

  10. Obviously the best thing to do for all of us is to lock ourselves in our survival bunker (assuming we have been re-newing the food stores regularly since 1995) but if you don’t have one, (how we scoffed), what is to say that you are more likely to be in contact with a C19 carrier at a sporting event than you at the supermarket, at work, on the bus/train or walking down the main street of town ? buying your groceries online ? are you sure the person putting your order together is not a student from overseas ? are you sure the person that stocks the shelves is not from overseas ? what about the fruit/veg. pickers ? Take precautions, buy a lotto ticket and chill.

    Sorry for all those people who flew to Oz for the GP and are going to catch C19 on the plane and never saw a race.

    1. Hohum, you’re a bloody genius and absolutely correct. Sad as it is there is now absolutely no chance of avoiding this and even more sad is that it’ll be a certain group that will suffer the worst losses. Survival bunker is a humorous fact. Don’t forget the feeding, oxygen, waste tubes! I’m still going to the supermarket as usual! Whils’t I’ll be sensible and not put myself in a room full of sufferers I refuse to completely change my lifestyle. Seriously if we genuinely worried this much about everything then we’d never go out cos we might have a car accident or get run over by a bus. God bless everyone and I wish you all well! 👍🏻😁

      1. Thank you for your kind words @karlbooth.

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