Australian GP called off due to coronavirus

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Mercedes world champion Lewis Hamilton Thursday weighed in, saying it was “shocking” that organizers wanted to push on even with the NBA and other major sports suspending matches and competitions

The Australian Formula One Grand Prix was cancelled Friday due to worries about the coronavirus outbreak, after a McLaren team member tested positive before the first practice session was scheduled to get underway at Albert Park.

There were big question marks over the season-opening race after McLaren withdrew late Thursday night when a member of their team tested positive for the virus.

The fourth round of the championship in Shanghai in April has already been postponed, while organizers of the Bahrain Grand Prix said last weekend that their race would go ahead without spectators on March 22.

Confusion reigned earlier Friday, with fans flocking to the lakeside race-track and local broadcaster Channel Nine reporting that the AGPC chairman had said they would plough on with the race.

Mercedes statement: “The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team has today sent a letter to the FIA and F1 requesting the cancellation of the 2020 Australian Grand Prix. We no longer feel the safety of our employees can be guaranteed if we continue to take part in the event.” #F1 #AusGP

Hundreds of fans milled around closed entry gates before Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews announced that none would be permitted to enter even if the race went ahead.

There was clearly pressure from Formula One teams, with Mercedes saying they had requested organizers call it off and that they had started to pack up and leave the circuit.

Mercedes world champion Lewis Hamilton Thursday also weighed in, saying it was “shocking” that organizers wanted to push on even with the NBA and other major sports suspending matches and competitions.