Daniel Ricciardo has said Formula 1 was “playing with fire” by trying to go ahead with the Australian Grand Prix in the face of growing concerns over the global pandemic.
Ricciardo told The Age newspaper he “had some tunnel vision” ahead of the event “because Melbourne is such a busy and chaotic race”.
“I hadn’t given too much thought to the whole corona situation but deep down I had some concerns,” he said. “We were definitely playing with fire.”
The race promoters have defended their attempts to press ahead with the race, pointing out that large sporting events took place in the city the previous weekend. But the escalating threat from the pandemic, and the discovery a McLaren team member had tested positive for the virus, led to the late decision to cancel the season-opening grand prix.
When the cancellation was announced, fans were already queuing outside the track waiting to get in, as the gates had not been opened at the scheduled time. Some drivers, such as Sebastian Vettel, had advanced warning the race was going to be called off.
“One of the people I spoke to was Max [Verstappen] just to see what he was planning on doing,” said Ricciardo. “My thoughts once it was cancelled was to get out as soon as possible before things turned into a bit of a shitshow. I wanted to get a feel from some of the other drivers with what they were going to do before I got on a plane.”
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
2020 F1 season
- Pictures: Wrecked chassis from Grosjean’s Bahrain fireball crash to go on display
- Bottas vs Rosberg: Hamilton’s Mercedes team mates compared after 78 races each
- F1 revenues fell by $877 million in Covid-struck 2020 season
- Hamilton and Mercedes finally announce new deal for 2021 season
- F1 audience figures “strong” in 2020 despite dip in television viewers