The Australian Grand Prix promoter says that the decision to cancel the event just hours before FP1 couldn’t have been taken more “quickly”.
The race was cast into doubt when a McLaren employee tested positive for coronavirus with the team subsequently withdrawing from the Australian Grand Prix.
Although there was still the intention to race without them, Mercedes later withdrew while Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen all flew out of Melbourne before the official cancellation.
Most annoyed though were the fans who queued to enter Albert Park, only to be then told that the race was off.
Australian Grand Prix chairman Paul Little said the organisers were “terribly disappointed that the event can’t go ahead” and apologised to fans, but felt the decision was reached as quickly as possible.
“From the Australian Grand Prix point of view I just want to say sorry to our fans. The health and safety and welfare of teams and people, and the community generally, has to take precedence and it will and has,” he told Racefans.net.
“We are very conscious of our responsibility to the fans, we knew they were trying to get through the gate.
“We were still taking advice from the medical officers and that was up until around nine o’clock-ish. We understood this concern was out there, but we really needed to speak to Formula 1, FIA again in the morning.
“We had discussions through until about 2:30 in the morning. We reinvigorated those discussions early in the morning and the final conclusion was reached when the press release went out and our fans at the gates were told accordingly. So I don’t think it would have been possible to do it any more quickly.”
Little said that ultimately it was the decision of the chief medical officer not to go racing.
“The McLaren test coming back as a positive test was obviously something that needed to be addressed medically,” he said.
“The medical people met overnight in relation to that: Who that individual had contact with, obviously the impact on the McLaren team was going to be very significant there too, and there were some other events medically evolving around the world.
“That I think led to the decision for the medical officer to change his view about being able to run an event today versus not being able to run an event today. So it was pretty clear-cut and all the way through this we haven’t questioned the input from that critical source for us.”