Daniel Ricciardo believes Formula 1 was “playing with fire” before cancelling the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Despite the escalating situation of the coronavirus pandemic, Formula 1 still flew out to Melbourne as they attempted to get the 2020 season underway.
Quickly though plans began to unravel after a McLaren employee tested positive for the virus, and with confusion reigning as the FIA stayed completely silent, the event was cancelled just hours before FP1 was due to start with fans already queuing outside Albert Park.
Ricciardo is relieved though that the decision to cancel came, saying that the series was “playing with fire”.
“I definitely had some tunnel vision because Melbourne is such a busy and chaotic race,” he told The Age.
“I hadn’t given too much thought to the whole corona situation but deep down I had some concerns. We were definitely playing with fire.
“You start replaying every interaction you had, who you spoke to, where you were … it was easy to get paranoid. Even a few weeks earlier we were all in Barcelona at [pre-season] testing, there were no restrictions, typically everyone has a cold at that time of year in Europe … your mind definitely wanders.
“Once we got closer to the race and when you saw what was going on with other sports like the NBA, I was definitely thinking no, we absolutely shouldn’t be doing this.”
Ricciardo indirectly agreed with the frustration showed by fans over the lack of communication regarding what was going on, and what decisions were being made.
“From the outside it’s easy to say [it could have been managed better], but even being on the inside … I’d be naive if I said I knew everything that was going on because so few of us did,” he said.
“We were all gutted that it didn’t go ahead and it was such a shame for everyone who works there, who goes as a spectator, for the people who wanted to watch it on TV, but it was 100 per cent the right call.
“The Sunday, as in race day in Melbourne, was strange because I was home. It was around race start time on the Sunday and I had a moment where I thought ‘man, I should be in an F1 car right now’ … it sucked.”