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The Formula One Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Organisers have received stiff criticism from just about everyone, from medical experts to defending champion Lewis Hamilton, for not cancelling the event earlier, but finally made the decision just after 10am (AEDT) to cancel the race.
There had been conflicting reports about whether the event will go ahead following the news that a McLaren team member tested positive for the virus last night. McLaren announced they were withdrawing from the race in the wake of that news, while Ferrari drivers Sebastien Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen fly home from Melbourne this morning.
Formula One’s full statement read as follows:
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. 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.