The Australian Grand Prix organizers plan to continue the rest of the event, despite the expected imminent cancellation of the Formula 1 race due to a coronavirus.
The race was plunged into doubt when McLaren announced his retirement from the weekend after one of his team members confirmed that he had contracted COVID-19.
Following a meeting of F1 team leaders agreed with the FIA last night in Melbourne not to go ahead with the opening round of the championship, no official announcement on the fate of the grand prix has yet been made.
However, in a statement obtained by Autosport from the Australian Grand Prix company on Friday morning, it was made clear that all other activities were continuing as planned.
“The doors will open at 8.45 am and the track activities will start as planned at 9.10 am,” the press release said.
“The side events, sponsorship functions, hospitality program and all fan engagement activations and activities will start as scheduled.
“The wider implications resulting from McLaren’s withdrawal are being discussed with the FIA and Formula 1 after long discussions overnight.
“There will be a series of discussions underway with key stakeholders in the morning and updates on any changes to the program will be communicated as soon as possible.”
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said shortly before the track opened on Friday morning that he would not allow spectators to participate if action on the track took place.
Speaking to 7News Sydney, he said: “For public health reasons, there will be no spectators at the Grand Prix this weekend if a race really takes place. It is their business. [race organisers] and they will be making announcements very soon. “
Autosport understands that F1 personnel were told Friday morning to treat things as a “normal day” amid the dramatic news of McLaren’s withdrawal.
F1 teams are also heading to the track, ready to pack their gear, with uncertainty as to the destination of F1.
Eight other people – a mixture of various team members and, apparently, a photographer – have been isolated in recent days while being tested for coronavirus. However, all tests returned negative.