Australian F1 Grand Prix in Jeopardy as McLaren Pulls Out Over Positive Coronavirus Test
With teams already in Melbourne for this weekend's race, F1 is yet to announce if the show will go on.
Despite taking measures to prevent teams' exposure to Coronavirus by delaying the Chinese Grand Prix, threatening the same in Vietnam, and running in Bahrain without spectators, Formula 1 has failed to avoid infection. Thursday morning, McLaren Racing announced that one of its team members in Australia had tested positive for COVID-19 and that the team will not compete in this weekend's Grand Prix.
"McLaren Racing has confirmed this evening in Melbourne that it has withdrawn from the 2020 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, following the positive test of a team member for the Coronavirus.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," said a statement issued by the racing outfit. "The team has prepared for this eventuality and has ongoing support in place for its employee who will now enter a period of quarantine. The team is cooperating with the relevant local authorities to assist their investigations and analysis."
McLaren isn't the only team that may be forced to sit out this weekend's race, either. According to Racer, Haas team principal Günther Steiner confirmed four team members—three mechanics and one engineer—have submitted themselves for testing after displaying cold-like symptoms, which can be early signs of COVID-19 exposure. While Steiner hopes the tests come back negative, allowing the team to race this weekend, the Chief Health Officer for Victoria, Australia hinted to a Melbourne radio station that positive test results could have disastrous implications for F1's planned race weekend.
"I'm aware that there is crew who are unwell and in isolation who have tests pending," said Dr. Brett Sutton on SEN 1116. "It will depend on those tests. If they are all negative, if everyone else who has got symptoms is negative and they haven't exposed other crew, then I can see that they can carry on."
"But if there are positive crew and they've exposed to a number of others, then all of those contacts need to be in quarantine, and so it will be a question of whether they've got the operational staff to continue. I've spoken to my team about getting those tests results as soon as possible, and it's really all contingent on that. If there are positive tests then I will be directly involved with the CEO, with the organizers, about what next steps need to be taken and what the implications are."
Previously, F1 announced that it would cancel any Grand Prix races if a team was unable to travel due to COVID-19. That said, most everyone is already in Melbourne for this weekend's race at Albert Park so there's now a waiting game to hear the series' official decision on the matter.
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