Confirmed: Australian GP to go ahead as planned despite coronavirus fears

Image: TeamTalk
Image: TeamTalk

Formula 1 is still on track to head to Melbourne in two weeks for the start of the 2020 season, despite MotoGP cancelling the Qatar event.

Sport’s calendars around the world are being disrupted by the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has spread to every continent except Antarctica.

Countries are putting travel restrictions include place which, FIM has confirmed, has led to the cancellation of MotoGP’s season-opening race in Qatar.

The FIM statement read: “As of today, all passengers arriving at Doha on direct flights from Italy, or having been in Italy in the past 2 weeks, will be taken straight to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.

“Italy clearly plays a vital role in the Championship and in the MotoGP class - both on track and off - and therefore the decision has been taken to cancel premier class competition.”

The go-ahead

For now, though, the first race of 2020, the Australian GP, will go ahead as planned.

AGPC CEO Andrew Westacott says the race’s organisers will take “guidance” from local government but, at least for now, no one foresees any reason to cancel the race.

READ: Coronavirus could force 2020 F1 season to start in May

Westacott told Foxsport in a statement: “The Australian Grand Prix Corporation has robust health, safety and emergency management arrangements in place at each event and we will continue to work collaboratively with health agencies and related government and emergency services organisations in addressing this matter.

“We continue to closely monitor the situation in the lead-up to the grand prix and will take guidance from subject matter experts, including Victorian and National Chief Health Officers and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. F1 has confirmed that the Australian Grand Prix is going ahead and we’re looking forward to welcoming them and the teams to Melbourne in the next one to two weeks.”

Difficult travels

Some F1 teams such as AlphaTauri, based in Italy, have been forced to change their travel plans to Melbourne while some team members may not be able to make the race at all.

AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost said: “It’s changing all the time from the logistics side,” said . “We have to change all the flights because we are not allowed to go anymore via Singapore or Hong Kong. There’s a lot of work in front of us. This Coronavirus is a really serious story from the AlphaTauri side. I instructed all the employees to behave in a special manner.

“For example, we reduced the travelling dramatically. Then people who are coming from the red zones in Italy should stay at home. We do not want that they come to the factory. Suppliers are supposed not to visit us in the factory. And we will see now what’s going on regarding your races in Melbourne or in Bahrain.”

READ: Formula 2 driver quarantined in Spanish hotel following coronavirus outbreak

F1 has already postponed the Chinese GP with China the centre of the outbreak, while there are also concerns about the inaugural Vietnam GP.

Vietnam, which is down to host its first race on 5 April, shares a border with China and last month placed a village 40km north of Hanoi remains under a 20-day lockdown.

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