Coronavirus has spread its effects in F1 as well. F1 drivers have been asked to avoid autographs sessions to avoid the spread of the deadly disease. In the latest news, the Australian GP has decided to put a ban on its usual autograph sessions following the coronavirus outbreak. However, Australian GP have found an alternative for the autograph session as they have replaced it with live Q&A caucus. The Q&A session will be held during the season-opener in Melbourne. The Australian GP organisers have taken the decision to avoid the physical interaction between the fans and the drivers.
The Australian GP management also banned the fans and drivers' interaction during the traditional Melbourne Wall. Physical interaction like taking autographs and selfies are restricted. A statement from the AGPC read: “In the current environment, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation wishes to advise fans of a change to the format of both the autograph sessions and the operations of the Melbourne Walk as they relate to both Formula 1 drivers and Supercars drivers. Autograph sessions will now be conducted as Q&A interview sessions. Drivers will continue to utilise the Melbourne Walk but will not be closely interacting with fans for selfies, autographs or other direct engagement. We thank you for your cooperation and understanding.”
The precautions have been taken after it was announced that three F1 team members from Haas and McLaren were tested for the virus. They have been asked to stay alone in their respective hotels while they have been tested for coronavirus. The members have been diagnosed with similar symptoms to those of the flu. However, the teams affected are expected to go on with their usual operations ahead of the opener while waiting for the results, which should be out in the next 24 hours.
AFPC CEO Andrew Westacott answered with the following statement: "The Australian Grand Prix Corporation has been informed of three Formula 1 team personnel presenting for precautionary testing and who are now all undergoing precautionary self-isolation. "The AGPC is monitoring the situation in conjunction with Formula 1 and the FIA."