Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westcott says Formula 1’s planned season-opening race in Melbourne is unlikely to be rearranged for later in 2020.

F1 called off the Australian Grand Prix less than two hours before practice was due to get underway on Friday morning after it emerged that a McLaren team member had tested positive for coronavirus.

Upcoming races in Bahrain and Vietnam were also shelved - adding to the already postponed Chinese Grand Prix - which has resulted in the start of the 2020 season being delayed until May at the earliest.

F1 sporting chief Ross Brawn revealed the championship is considering scrapping its planned summer break in August to fit in races that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, though Australia is set to remain a permanently-cancelled fixture.

“It’s important we used the word cancellation because of the imminency of the timing of it,” Westcott said.

“It was important to make sure that the fans in Melbourne at the gate knew that it wasn’t a postponement for some period of hours or days, The word cancellation was used deliberately.

“In F1 you never say never, we have been working on the here and now with Chase [Carey], the FIA and F1 and we will work though matters but we haven't started thinking about future staging or anything like that but it will happen in the fullness of time.”

Westcott said the AGPC is now working with F1 to settle the various financial and contractual consequences due to the event being abandoned.

“A cancellation of this nature has a lot of consequences, and some of those are contractual and financial,” he explained.

“We will work those through with the commercial rights holder in the days and weeks following this announcement, and we will be making sure that appropriate contractual measures are looked after in that manner. There are going to be a lot of things.

“So the point I would make to the fans as well is that we’re going to work through with the fans on the refunds applicable to their ticketing arrangements.

“As Paul Little, our chairman, said earlier on, we’re reaching out and we’re addended for the fans, we’re saddened for the staffers.

“Let me say on t behalf of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation this event could not happen if it wasn’t for the ecosystem that exists in Victoria.

“So not only is it the fans, but there’s the element of sadness and disappointment that I have for the 600 suppliers, the 12,000 staff that work the event on the weekend, 180 staff that we have, the family that is Formula 1.

“Sport is a wonderful thing that brings us all together, but also in these changing times around the world we need to be very mindful of the input of the health authorities, and the health authorities in concert with the FIA and Formula 1 and the grand prix corporation has reached this decision.”

 

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