Australian Grand Prix – Fans gathered at the gates of Albert Park ahead of practice on Friday, only to be told the Grand Prix was cancelled 90 minutes before FP1.
There has been no official word from Formula 1, Liberty Media or the FIA since acknowledging the confirmed case of COVID-19 within the paddock on Thursday, meaning that fans have shown up to attend today’s practice sessions at Albert Park. Speaking to FormulaSpy, several fans have confirmed they have shown up and are not being permitted entry to the grounds but haven’t been communicated with by Formula 1 or the Australian Grand Prix Corporation.
However, overnight reports from various news sources have suggested the event is cancelled – these are unconfirmed by the relevant authorities. Other reports say the event is going ahead, but even the Formula 1 teams themselves don’t appear to know.
Mercedes have issued a statement to say they have requested cancellation of the event, with the team saying they “no longer feel the safety of our employees can be guaranteed if we continue to take part in the event.”
“We share the disappointment of the sport’s fans that this race cannot go ahead as planned. However, the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our team members and of the wider F1 community are our absolute priority.”
“In light of the force majeure events we are experiencing with regards to the Coronavirus pandemic, we no longer feel the safety of our employees can be guaranteed if we continue to take part in 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.”
“Our team will therefore begin pack-up preparations at the circuit this morning.”
Several other teams have begun the process of packing up, while there are unconfirmed rumours that Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have already departed Australia to return to Europe.
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