Red Bull Formula 1 team principal Christian Horner admits the cancellation of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix due to the coronavirus outbreak was “frustrating”.

F1 called off its season-opener in Melbourne following an outbreak of COVID-19 in the paddock, with a member of the McLaren team contracting the flu-like disease.

After a meeting held by teams and F1 officials on Thursday night, it was announced that the opening round had been abandoned less than two hours before the scheduled start of free practice.

“It’s obviously frustrating,” Horner said. “The situation globally is changing hour-by-hour and day-by-day.

“When we arrived in Australia the intention was to go racing but unfortunately following the positive test of a person within the paddock the decision was made to cancel the event.

“Ultimately the safety and wellbeing of staff, the fans and the paddock is hugely important.”

Red Bull was among the teams in favour of going ahead with the race, but it is understood that after a 5-5 tie in a team vote, Mercedes changed its viewpoint and subsequently sent a letter to F1 and the FIA to request the cancellation of the event, ultimately setting off a chain of events that led to it being called off.

“We were minded to monitor the situation,” he explained. “The local health authority was giving the go-ahead for the event, the FIA were giving the go-ahead.

“There was a majority that were in favour of running and doing more screening today in the event of any more outbreaks.

“That obviously changed following the meeting with teams changing position so the promoter had no choice but to cancel the event.”

F1 has also called off planned upcoming races in Bahrain and Vietnam, adding to the already postponed Chinese Grand Prix.

There are major doubts over whether the Dutch and Spanish grands prix in May will be able to be staged, with the season now expected to start at the end of May at the earliest.



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