Formula One team Mclaren has announced that they will not be competing in the Australian Grand Prix, the inaugural race of the Formula One season, after a member of the team was tested positive for coronavirus. The announcement was made on Tuesday afternoon.
McLaren Racing withdraws from the 2020 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix. pic.twitter.com/BZvHVKQoev— McLaren (@McLarenF1) March 12, 2020
The team released a statement which stated that one member of the team has tested positive. The team member was tested soon after showing symptoms of coronavirus and self-isolated. The member will be treated by local healthcare authorities. "The team has prepared for this eventuality and has ongoing support in place for its employees who will now enter a period of quarantine. The team is cooperating with the relevant local authorities to assist in their investigation and analysis."
The Australian GP is scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 15. There have been no announcements made regarding postponing or canceling the race.
The FIA has already announced that the Chinese Grand Prix will be canceled because of the virus and the Bahrain Grand Prix will be held behind closed doors.
The announcement comes hours after Mercedes driver and six-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, during a press event in the country stated that he was "surprised" to be in Australia. Hamilton, one of the first drivers to speak up on the decision, or the lack of, to go ahead with the season's inaugural race. The Brit said, "I am very, very surprised we are here,” he said. “I think it’s great that we can have races, but for me it’s shocking that we’re all sitting in this room. There are so many fans here already today. It seems like the rest of the world is reacting, probably a bit late, but already this morning we have seen [Donald] Trump shutting down the borders from Europe to the United States. The NBA is being suspended and F1 continues to go on.”
World Health Organisation (WHO), on Wednesday, declared the novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak as a pandemic. The announcement takes place months after the virus spread from China's Wuhan. Globally, over 1,26,000 cases have been reported with the virus claiming over 4,600 lives.