The 2020 Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix has been officially called off amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

A statement from F1 and the FIA finally arrived less than an hour before track action was due to take place at Albert Park after hours of silence amid uncertainty and confusion over whether the race would go ahead or not.

It followed McLaren’s withdrawal from the season-opener on Thursday after a member of its team tested positive for COVID-19, throwing the race into jeopardy.

Following a series of mixed and confusing messages from race organisers insisting that the event would go ahead as planned, the Australian Grand Prix was officially canned on Friday morning.

"Following the confirmation that a member of the McLaren Racing Team has tested positive for COVID-19 and the team’s decision to withdraw from the Australian Grand Prix, the FIA and Formula 1 convened a meeting of the other nine team principals on Thursday evening," a joint statement read. 

"Those discussions concluded with a majority view of the teams that the race should not go ahead. The FIA and Formula 1, with the full support of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) have therefore taken the decision that all Formula 1 activity for the Australian Grand Prix is cancelled.

"We appreciate this is very disappointing news for the thousands of fans due to attend the race and all ticket holders will receive a full refund and a further announcement will be communicated in due course.

"All parties took into consideration the huge efforts of the AGPC, Motorsport Australia, staff and volunteers to stage the opening round of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship in Melbourne, however concluded that the safety of all members of the Formula 1 family and the wider community, as well as the fairness of the competition take priority." 

Australia joins the Chinese Grand Prix - originally scheduled for an April 19 race slot - in becoming the second F1 event to be affected by coronavirus. Upcoming races in Bahrain and Vietnam are also in doubt. 

 

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