McLaren pull out of Australian GP after team member contracts coronavirus
"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," say McLaren
Last Updated: 13/03/20 10:29am
McLaren have pulled out of this weekend's season-opening Australian GP after a team member contracted coronavirus.
A team member who had been in self-isolation after showing coronavirus-like symptoms has tested positive for the disease after tests in Melbourne.
The race will now not go ahead.
"McLaren Racing has confirmed this evening in Melbourne that it has withdrawn from the 2020 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, following the positive test of a team member for the coronavirus," read a statement.
"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.
"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."
Zak Brown, McLaren's CEO, and team boss Andreas Seidl informed F1 and the FIA of the decision to withdraw on Thursday evening with the team saying it "has been taken based on a duty of care not only to McLaren F1 employees and partners, but also to the team's competitors, Formula 1 fans and wider F1 stakeholders".
The Australian GP track action is scheduled to begin on Friday.
Reporting from Melbourne, Sky Sports News' Craig Slater said: "McLaren have had this positive test and they have acted quickly to withdraw themselves from the competition. What it means in terms of the race going on this weekend, we'll have to find out."
Following McLaren's withdrawal, Formula 1 issued a statement which read: "Following the outcome of the test on a member the McLaren team, F1 and FIA have been in close contact with them on their decision and have been coordinating with all relevant authorities on next steps. Our priority is the safety of the fans, teams and all personnel at the race."
The Australian GP Corporation confirmed that, in total, eight F1 personnel had been tested for potential coronavirus by medical chiefs in the local state of Victoria. Seven returned negative results, with the individual from McLaren testing positive.
Australian GP officials said a ninth individual, who is not connected to a team, the FIA, or suppliers, was awaiting the results of a test.
F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton had earlier said he was "very surprised" that the season-opener was going ahead as planned given the nature of the pandemic.
"I am really very, very surprised that we're here. I think it's great that we have races but for me it's shocking that we are all sitting in this room [for the conference]," said Hamilton.
"There are so many fans here already today and it seems like the rest of the world is reacting, probably a little bit late.
"But already this morning you have seen Trump shutting down the borders from Europe to the States and you are seeing the NBA has been suspended, yet Formula 1 continues to go on."
F1, the FIA and Australian GP organisers have put in place measures at Albert Park so far this week in the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak.