Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has urged Formula 1 fans to pull together amid the coronavirus pandemic and admits the championship must take a backseat until the crisis is resolved.

In an open letter, Wolff spoke of his disappointment to have seen the start of the 2020 season delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which forced the Australian Grand Prix being abandoned, as well as the next six races being shelved.

But the Austrian acknowledged that racing is “by no means essential” in the grand scheme of things and stressed Mercedes and F1 as a whole must to everything possible to keep its staff and wider public safe.

"Whether you support silver or red, pink or yellow, orange or blue – what unites us is our passion for racing,” Wolff wrote.

“So, the prospect of months without F1 just as the season was about to start, after months of hard work to be ready for the new campaign – that prospect might be disappointing.

“We must also realise, that racing is entertainment. We take it very seriously, because we love it. But in the grand scheme of things, it is by no means essential.

“The health and wellbeing of our fans, our team members and society in general, however, is.

"As a team and as a sport we must do everything we can to keep our people safe and minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

“We fully support the decisions taken yesterday, and we will work closely with F1, the FIA, the local promoters and our fellow teams to find the best answers for our sport in the coming months.”