Lewis Hamilton and F1 drivers back decision to cancel Australian GP
"I know it's disappointing, as sport unites us when times are tough, but it's the right call," says six-time F1 champion
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 13/03/20 11:50am
Lewis Hamilton has led the backing from F1 drivers over the decision to cancel this weekend's season-opening Australian GP.
The event was called off on Friday morning, hours before first practice was due to start, after a McLaren team member contracted coronavirus.
Hamilton, who said on Thursday that he was "shocked" the race was going to take place, insisted the move to cancel it was the only option.
"Sadly, this the right decision," the six-time world champion posted on social media. "No one wants this, we all want to get in our cars and get racing, but we have to be realistic and we must put health and safety first.
"The reality is, this is really serious with people dying every day, lots of people ill and even if they are not ill, many people being affected financially and emotionally.
"No one really knows the extent of what we are dealing with, but we should all take precautions to keep as many people as safe as possible.
"I know it's disappointing, as sport unites us when times are tough, but it's the right call. Listen to the advice everyone, keep safe. Hope to be back racing soon but in the meantime look after yourselves."
In another post from Melbourne on Friday night, Hamilton added: "This has honestly been one of the most difficult days.
"I've raced my whole life, so much preparation has gone into being here, every little detail. When hit with the harsh reality of not being able to do what I was born to do, life really is put into perspective.
"I'm so grateful though, to be able to do what I do, work with the people I work with. My 14th year here. The uncertainty in the world, what a scary time it is.
"I want to send everybody love, light and positivity. We must stay positive, keep those you love close as every day is not a given."
The loss of the 2020 Australian GP followed a spate of sporting cancellations across the globe amid the outbreak of the virus.
The decision came after McLaren pulled out of the event on Thursday evening, with the 10 teams then meeting and coming to a majority to call activities at Albert Park off.
Hamilton wasn't the only F1 driver to commend that decision:
I’m devastated I can’t compete at my home GP here in Melbourne & get the season started. Ultimately though the right decision has been made & I think everyone can understand this is something we’ve never seen before. Sorry to all fans who came out for the support. Much love 💙— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) March 13, 2020
Stay safe everyone, and let’s hope this whole COVID-19 situation gets better soon. Shame we can’t race here in Australia, but keeping everybody health & safety is priority. Was really looking forward to start the season, but we will have to wait. Lets hope for better news soon❤️ pic.twitter.com/Shqz41hWPE— PIERRE GASLY 🇫🇷 (@PierreGASLY) March 13, 2020
Can’t remember ever being more excited for a race weekend than this one - but cancelling was absolutely the right call. Eveybody’s safety has to come first. Stay safe people 🙏— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) March 12, 2020
Was so pumped to go racing this weekend, but the safety, health and well being of everyone is by far the most important thing and this was the right thing to do. Stay safe everyone and look after each other 🙏🏼— Kevin Magnussen (@KevinMagnussen) March 12, 2020
There are as yet no further details about other F1 races. The Chinese GP, due for April 19, had already been postponed amid the coronavirus outbreak - while there are now serious doubts about the Bahrain GP on March 22 and the inaugural race in Vietnam on April 5.