My family and I were looking forward to the start of the Formula One season in Melbourne this weekend. My two kids know that every year in March we start watching F1 again. I had timed my binging of Drive to Survive’s second season to neatly flow in to the race. When I turned to my wife at the dinner table and told her the news she said “I know, Lando Norris told me”. Apparently she follows him on Instagram.
The traveling city of F1 showed up in full force in Australia. All 10 teams were ready to go despite the COVID-19 pandemic and already learning of complications further along the calendar. Bahrain announced it was going to run its GP without any fans in attendance. Vietnam has banned travel to its country from anyone who has been in Italy in a previous 14-day period where Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri (née Toro Rosso), Ferrari, and Haas would be effected. Nevermind the fact that F1’s tire supplier, Pirelli, is an Italian company.
On Wednesday, two Haas team members and a McLaren team member self-isolated after showing coronavirus symptoms. The end seemed to be near as F1 leadership had mentioned either making Australia a non-points race or trying to cancel altogether. Then the news broke that McLaren withdrew from the race after their team member tested positive and 13 others from McLaren were subsequently quarantined.
As with many things in this world, much of the decision around canceling came down to money. If Formula One pulled the trigger, the race organizers would not have to pay the race fee charged to host a GP. If the Australian Grand Prix Corporation accepted responsibility for canceling they would be out the fee and the operational losses that will certainly come as a result. And so the FIA, F1, and the AGPC got in a room and it looks like the F1 season may go the way of other pro sports. If you’re wondering who won the money battle, the AGPC says it all in their press release.
At 9am today the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) was advised by Formula 1® of their intention to cancel all Formula 1® activity at the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix.
In related news, the 12 Hours of Sebring has been moved to November to coincide with the annual non-championship event.
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