The Australian Grand Prix has been canceled just hours before today’s free practice. The FIA hoped that the race would carry on up to the very last moment. The pressure put by television channels and sponsors delayed the decision.
Update: Following the cancellation of the season-opening and the postponement of the races in China, Bahrein and Vietnam, the Formula 1 season is expected to begin at the end of May.
McLaren had already announced its retirement fromthe race, following the news that one of the team’s mechanics was tested positive for coronavirus. Furthermore, other 14 of his colleagues are placed in quarantine in hotel where they were accommodated in Melbourne for the upcoming two weeks.
Ferrari had also reported the impossibility to race. Hours later, Mercedes filed an official letter to the FIA, requesting the cancellation of the race. Anyhow, the Victoria state premier, Daniel Andrews, had announced that there was a single possibility for the race to carry on: behind closed doors, with fans watching it only on TV.
Inside sources claim that drivers led by Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were quite vehement against racing. The German and the Finn had already flown home before the final decision came out, while the Brit refused to participate in the press conference. Mercedes has already packed to go home to Brackley and Brixworth and wait for the upcoming decisions there.
The rest of the season is under question as well: the Bahrain Grand Prix should also take place with no spectators on the 22nd of March, but considering the latest circumstances, this race might be postponed as well. On April 5th,the third race of the season is scheduled in Hanoi, but the Vietnamese government prohibited access into the state to all those who have been in Italy, Germany, Spain and Great Britain for the past 14 days. The fate of the Chinese Grand Prix, set to take place on April 19th, has already been decided: it is not going to happen.