McLaren have withdrawn from the opening Formula One race of the season after a team member tested positive for coronavirus.
The new campaign is due to get underway in Australia though McLaren will not be a part of the race weekend.
A McLaren statement read: “McLaren Racing has confirmed this evening in Melbourne that it has withdrawn from the 2020 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, following the positive test of a team member for the coronavirus.
“The team member was tested and self-isolated as soon as they started to show symptoms and will now be treated by local healthcare authorities.
“The team has prepared for this eventuality and has ongoing support in place for its employee who will now enter a period of quarantine.
Lewis Hamilton left ‘shocked’ Australian GP going ahead amid coronavirus crisis
Australian Grand Prix in doubt as McLaren team member tested for coronavirus
“The team is cooperating with the relevant local authorities to assist their investigations and analysis.
“Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing, and Andreas Seidl, Team Principal of McLaren F1, informed Formula 1 and the FIA of the decision this evening.
“The decision has been taken based on a duty of care not only to McLaren F1 employees and partners, but also to the team’s competitors, Formula 1 fans and wider F1 stakeholders.”
Bahrain F1 Grand Prix to be held behind closed doors due to coronavirus fears
Current F1 champion Lewis Hamilton expressed surprise that the race is still due to go ahead.
"I am very, very surprised we are here," the world champion said in the official news conference on Thursday.
"It's great we have races but it's shocking we are sitting in this room.
"I just urge everyone to be as careful as you can be – touching doors; I hope everyone has hand sanitiser.
"I saw all the fans going on like it was a normal day, but I don't think it is. I really hope we go through the weekend and don't see any fatalities."
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Next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix is already due to take place behind closed doors while April’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai has been postponed.
Talks have also been held over calling off the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix in Hanoi.
Earlier this week, F1 said: "F1 is in constant dialogue with promoters, governmental bodies and expert health authorities to ensure the safeguarding of everyone inside and around the sport.”
- Formula One
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