Formula 1’s season-opening 2020 Australian Grand Prix has been called off amid growing concerns over the coronavirus, MotorsportWeek.com understands.
On Thursday, McLaren announced it would withdraw from the event after a team member tested positive for the virus.
A total of eight F1 team personnel – four of which belong to the Haas F1 Team – have been tested for the virus after showing mild symptoms, but all tests, bar the single McLaren employee, have come back negative.
With McLaren’s decision coming late on Thursday evening, it forced F1 team bosses to hold an emergency meeting in the very early hours of Friday morning (1am local time) to discuss the matter and decide whether or not they should press ahead with the race.
A vote on the matter was held and five teams were in favour of racing (Mercedes, Red Bull, Racing Point, AlphaTauri and Williams) and the remaining five against, meaning the matter has been referred to Formula 1 to make the decision.
However Mercedes parent company Daimler stepped in and told its team to pull out along with its customers Racing Point and Williams, leaving it 8-2 in favour of postponement.
Whilst there has been no official statement from Formula 1 or the FIA on the matter, it’s believed legal complications are holding this up due to insurance clauses, whereby F1 requires a local government to cancel in order to be covered, whereas the government requires F1 to cancel in order for it to be covered.
The BBC reports that Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have both left Australia on early morning flights.
The second round on the calendar, the Bahrain GP, is set to be run behind closed doors, but could be called off following this latest development, whilst MotorsportWeek.com understands Vietnam will be postponed whilst the Chinese round was postponed last month.
This is a breaking news story, more details to follow as this story develops…