Official confirmation: The Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled
Official confirmation has finally come that the Australian Grand Prix will not be happening in 2020, as Formula 1 becomes the latest sport to fall victim to the coronavirus.
Questions were asked prior to the season opener about the sense of holding the race when large public gathering were being banned around the world and the World Helath Organisation had just declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
Formula 1 is it's own bubble however, and those at the top believed the sport to be out of the reach of the outbreak, but out of reach it was not. The bubble burst, and the lack of a contingency quickly became evident for all to see.
Eventually, twelve hours after McLaren's withdrawal from the weekend, Liberty Media, F1, the FIA and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC), finally confirmed that the race would not go ahead.
"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, Formula 1 and the FIA convened a meeting of the other nine team principals on Thursday evening," read a joint statement.
"Those discussions concluded with a majority view of the teams that the race should not go ahead. Formula 1 and the FIA, 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.
"We appreciate this is very disappointing news for the thousands of fans due to attend the race and all ticket holders will receive a full refund and a further announcement will be communicated in due course.
"All parties took into consideration the huge efforts of the AGPC, Motorsport Australia, staff and volunteers to stage the opening round of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship in Melbourne, however concluded that the safety of all members of the Formula 1 family and the wider community, as well as the fairness of the competition take priority."
However, the separate statement released by the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) appeared to clearly lay the blame, and subsequently the bill, for cancelling the race at the feet of Formula 1 itself.
"At 9am today the Australian Grand Prix Corporation was advised by Formula 1 of their intention to cancel all Formula 1 activity at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix," read the AGPC statement.
"In light of this decision and updated advice this morning from the Chief Health Officer of the Victorian Government’s Department of Human and Health Services, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation confirms the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix is cancelled immediately.
"Last night a member of the McLaren Racing team tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. A further seven individuals returned negative results, confirming that they do not have the COVID-19 virus.
"Additionally, a ninth individual has been assessed and tested for the COVID-19 virus, with the results of this test pending. This individual is not associated with any Formula 1 team, the FIA or associated suppliers.
"Our first priority is the safety of everyone including attendees, our personnel, all event partners and members of the local community."
GPFans is a multi-platform, multi-language brand dedicated to Formula One coverage. We bring you all the ins and outs of the sport, 24/7, everything from up-to-the-minute news and features to the latest viral stories and clips.
We believe that a new generation of exciting, outspoken drivers will make F1 more popular than ever before, and we want to give our users access to as much of their heroes as possible, on and off the track. From Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo to Sebastian Vettel, we provide in-depth analysis of every every Grand Prix in the season, from Australia to Abu Dhabi.
With Formula One under the new ownership of Liberty Media, how the sport is being covered is evolving, and GPFans will look to be at the heart of this progression into new media, as one of the fastest-growing sites covering the king of motorsports.