McLaren withdraws from Australian Grand Prix after team member tests positive for COVID-19
Race promoter the Australian Grand Prix Corporation has released the following statement after the McLaren F1 team announced their withdrawal from the opening race of the season due to a positive COVID-19 test amongst its ranks.
"The Australian Grand Prix Corporation and Formula 1 have been advised by the Victorian Chief Health Officer of the results of tests relating to eight personnel from the Formula 1 Paddock.
"Of these eight tests, seven individuals have returned a negative result confirming that they do not have the COVID-19 virus. An eighth individual has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus," said CEO Andrew Westacott.
"It has been confirmed that the individual was a member of the McLaren Racing Team. As a result of this, McLaren has announced its withdrawal from the Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020.
"The AGPC is currently in discussions with Formula 1, the FIA and the Department of Health and Human Services in relation to the broader implications of this test result.
"Additionally, a ninth individual has been assessed and tested for the COVID-19 virus, with the results of this test pending. This individual is not associated with any Formula 1 team, the FIA or associated suppliers.
"The AGPC will provide updates as further details become available."
It is believed the ninth individual mentioned is a photographer covering the event as part of the media contingent.
Multiple F1 team personnel from McLaren and Haas had earlier been forced into isolation in their hotel rooms after undergoing tests for the virus that the World Health Organisation has now officially declared a pandemic.
McLaren released the following statement late Thursday night confirming the news that one of their personnel had returned a positive test, and that they would be withdrawing from the opening race of the 2020 Formula One World Championship as a result.
McLaren Racing withdraws from the 2020 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix. pic.twitter.com/BZvHVKQoev— McLaren (@McLarenF1) March 12, 2020
Formula One Management, the commercial rights holder of the sport released an initial response to the shock news from McLaren.
"Following the outcome of the test on a member (of) the McLaren team, we have bene in close contact with them on their decision and have been coordinating with all the relevant authorities on the next steps.
"Our priority is the safety of the fans, the teams and all personnel at the race."
Ross Brawn, Managing Director - Motorsport of Formula One has previously indicated that if a team was denied entry to a race host country, no race would take place.
"If a team is prevented from entering a country we can't have a race," said Brawn.
"Not a Formula One world championship race, anyway, because that would be unfair.
"Obviously if a team makes its own choice not to go to a race, that's their decision.
"But where a team is prevented from going to a race because of a decision of the country then it's difficult to have a fair competition."
The single positive test returned by a McLaren team member places the sport into unchartered territority, at least in modern times.