A McLaren Coronavirus scare has the team withdrawing entirely from the Australian Grand Prix. Will Formula 1 take heed of this lesson?
As the entire grid descended upon Melbourne at the Albert Park Circuit, we were already set for an exciting start to the 2020 Formula 1 season as outlined in the Australian Grand Prix Preview Guide. The coronavirus being a dominating headline around the globe finally infiltrated the world of Formula 1. McLaren confirmed in a statement they are pulling out of round 1 in Australia as damage control in the face of a team member testing positive for the intensifying virus. The statement read as such:
“McLaren Racing has confirmed this evening in Melbourne that it has withdrawn from the 2020 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, following the positive test of a team member for the coronavirus. The team member was tested and self-isolated as soon as they started to show symptoms and will now be treated by local healthcare authorities.
The team has prepared for this eventuality and has ongoing support in place for its employee who will now enter a period of quarantine. The team is cooperating with the relevant local authorities to assist their investigations and analysis.
Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing, and Andreas Seidl, Team Principal of McLaren F1, informed Formula 1 and the FIA of the decision this evening. The decision has been taken based on a duty of care not only to McLaren F1 employees and partners, but also to the team’s competitors, Formula 1 fans and wider F1 stakeholders.”
McLaren Coronavirus: Wake Up Call For F1?
The real question is: why are the teams in this situation in the first place? We see leagues taking action like the NBA canceling the entire season with just a single player contracting the virus. Why is Formula 1 so hesitant to do the right thing and not have the drivers and teams be put in harms way? Lest we not forget – Formula 1 is a global event. More than just risk of exposure individually, Formula 1 is the perfect environment for the virus to embed and be efficiently spread like bee pollination.
Here is the latest statement by Formula 1 on their position after it came to light that McLaren would not be participating in the opening event:
“Following the outcome of the test on a member the McLaren team, Formula 1 and the FIA have been in close contact with them on their decision and have been coordinating with all the relevant authorities on the next steps. Our priority is the safety of the fans, the teams and all personnel at the race.”
But is this strong enough? What is there even to discuss? It’s just my take on the matter. But Formula 1 needs to act firmly and swiftly for the sake of the public, the drivers, and their credibility.
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