The Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix has been officially cancelled, capping off a chaotic morning of mixed messages regarding the Melbourne race and whether it should go ahead at all.
In short: Sunday’s season-opening race, and the events leading up to it, have been canned due to concerns over Australia’s coronavirus outbreak.
In a joint statement obtained by The Guardian, Formula 1, motorsport’s governing body the FIA, and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation said the decision was made after F1 team McLaren Racing revealed one of its members has contracted coronavirus.
“Following the confirmation that a member of the McLaren Racing Team has tested positive for COVID-19 and the team’s decision to withdraw from the Australian Grand Prix, the FIA and Formula 1 convened a meeting of the other nine team principals on Thursday evening,” the statement reads.
“Those discussions concluded with a majority view of the teams that the race should not go ahead.
“The FIA and Formula 1, with the full support of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) have therefore taken the decision that all Formula 1 activity for the Australian Grand Prix is cancelled.”
So that’s that.
This isn’t the first inkling the event would be scrapped. Citing senior sources within F1, the BBC reported overnight that the race was set to be cancelled.
But, since the official confirmation was delayed, thousands of fans descended on the Albert Park circuit this morning in anticipation of the day’s events, including F1 practice sessions and a V8 Supercars race.
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CONFUSION REIGNS Several thousand people are being denied entry into the Albert Park track this morning waiting for an announcement from the government or Formula One as to the fate of the event. It is a surreal situation with the crowd calm and hopeful. *********** #F1 #Formula1 #Formule1 #grandprix #fia #GP #photography #f1photography #formulaoneracing #formula1sport #formula1grandprix #Australia #ausgp #melbourne
Earlier, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the state’s health department had advised F1 organisers they had two options: the event would run without spectators, or it would be cancelled entirely.
“On public health grounds, there will be no spectators at the grand prix this weekend, if a race actually happens at all,” he said.
Almost an hour after the Vic Premier declared no spectators could access Grand Prix, these thousands of (potentially ill) F1 fans are huddled together outside the gate, waiting for someone to tell them what’s happening. @sunriseon7 @7NewsMelbourne #F1 #AusGP pic.twitter.com/hbYTaNi4tp— Nathan Templeton (@nathantemp7) March 12, 2020
Event organisers say ticketholders will receive a full refund.
More to come.