Unfortunately for SBOTOP fans, coronavirus claimed another victim in its wake as the Australian Grand Prix is the latest sporting event to be cancelled.
Just like the NBA yesterday, the Formula One board decided to suspend the upcoming competition indefinitely right before the season even started as one of the top constructors pulled out at the Albert Park.
McLaren had to withdraw from Melbourne
McLaren was the first to withdraw from the Australian Grand Prix as they were taking all precautions and they were testing all of their personnel on whether they’ve contracted the coronavirus or not. But lo and behold, one staff member had tested positive, causing the said pullout.
“The team member was tested and self-isolated as soon as they started to show symptoms and will now be treated by local healthcare authorities,” said McLaren in their official statement.
“The team has prepared for this eventuality and has ongoing support in place for its employee who will now enter a period of quarantine. The team is cooperating with the relevant local authorities to assist their investigations and analysis,” they added.
This development led to a meeting between the Formula One teams and Liberty Media to vote on whether the race should continue. They vote came out 5:5 for the event to continue this weekend.
However, few hours after saying the race would go ahead, the Formula One board followed suit with the other major sporting events by cancelling the Australian Grand Prix altogether, which was the right call according to McLaren CEO Zak Brown.
“As a racer, this was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. As a CEO, it was the easiest decision to take,” said Brown regarding McLaren pulling out in Melbourne.
“I applaud the decision by F1, the FIA, and the AGPC to cancel the Australian Grand Prix. The health and safety of the F1 family and local community must come first,” he added during his interview with Formula Spy.
Lando Norris lamented about this development since he’s more than excited to start the season. However, the 20-year-old driver backed his boss’ stance.
“While I’m gutted that I can’t race, the most important thing right now is everyone’s health,” said Norris.
“We’ve been doing everything we can to limit the spread and that has naturally involved me being around as few people as possible. My only thoughts are with the team and everyone in the world fighting this,” he added.
14 members in the McLaren staff have been subjected to self-quarantine since they were most likely in contact with the affected individual while other cleared members have travelled back to the UK but they will not be permitted to report to work in the McLaren Technology Centre for two weeks.
What’s next for Formula One?
Ferrari were the first team to make it clear that they are not prepared to compete in Albert Park due to the current circumstances since their home country was hit severely by the coronavirus. So cancelling this event seems to be inevitable since Australia has reported more than 180 cases of such, according to our Australian Grand Prix 2020 news.
This sudden decision by the committee throws into doubt the rest of the F1 season especially with the Bahrain Grand Prix is due to take place next week with a spectator ban while the Chinese Grand Prix in April was being postponed.
“We will in the coming days be looking at races that are more imminent like Bahrain and Vietnam. And we will have further announcements and decisions on how we navigate the short-term elements of our schedule. We know there are issues there,” said F1 boss Chase Carey.
But since the pandemic is growing by the day, this was unfortunately the right and hard decision for the Formula One to make and we can expect all other major events to get cancelled too whether from the sports world or not.
Mercedes, who are the favourites to win the event, expressed their support to F1’s stance in cancelling the event.
“We empathise strongly with the worsening situation in Europe, most especially in Italy, and furthermore we do not feel it would be right to participate in an event where fellow competitors such as McLaren are unable to do so through circumstances beyond their control,” Mercedes said.
Suspending the race and the other events sure is a bummer for all of us. But us sports fans should do our part as we can only hope for the best to this growing situation.
“Stay safe everyone and try to fight #Covid_19 as much as you can,” tweeted Haas driver Romain Grosjean on his official Twitter page.
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