Andrew Westacott, CEO of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, is confident that the raging fires in Australia will be defeated by March when the opening round of the new Formula 1 season begins.
The opening race weekend of the 2020 season, set to take place on March 13- 15, has been thrown into doubt given the ferocious nature of the wildfires that have wreaked havoc across Australia.
However, Westacott has said it is still a case of “business as usual” for the race organisers and concerns will only be raised if there is a decline in air quality surrounding the Albert Park circuit in the coming months.
Changing wind conditions
Westacott told Press Association: “Melbourne itself isn’t impacted by the fires, they’re very much to the east, 200 to 300km away at least. It’s really centred upon the changing wind conditions that forces a degradation of air quality.
“But I wouldn’t expect that at this stage, and one doesn’t know what’s going to pan out over two months, that given the incidences of where the fires are, it will impact the F1 grand prix. With the timing of our event two months away, we are treating it as business as usual.
“But here and now, very much like all Australians, we are just thinking of the people who are fighting the fires, who have lost houses, have had to be evacuated because of this disaster.”
Westacott’s immediate thought is how the Australian Grand Prix can help provide support to those in need.
He added: “Our first priority, like everyone in Australia, is seeing what we can do to help, to lend love, support and best wishes and resources, and one of the main resources tends to be financial support."
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All the necessary support
Westacott added: “What we’re conscious of doing is marshalling the collective support of the motoring communities, who are so generous nationally and around the world. We’re looking to see that if anyone wants to provide support to those impacted, then we can have a centralised approach that calls on the motorsport fans to give generously, and that’s what we’re working towards at the moment.
“For the people who are fighting the fires, we need to ensure that everyone is supporting them, and for those affected, who have perhaps lost a source of income, their farming assets or their home, we need to be able to make sure we can give them some joy. Yes, we can be a source for praising and recognising the efforts of those involved helping to fight the fires, and we can also be an outlet for people to perhaps get some respite after what have been some very tough and traumatic times.”