Australian GP organisers pushing on with F1 race plans, fans barred

Australian Grand Prix organisers plan to push on with the rest of its event, despite the expected imminent cancellation of the Formula 1 race due to coronavirus

Australian GP organisers pushing on with F1 race plans, fans barred

The race was plunged into doubt when McLaren announced its withdrawal from the weekend after one of its team members was confirmed as having contracted COVID-19.

Following a meeting of F1 team principals agreeing with the FIA last night in Melbourne not to go ahead with the opening round of the championship, an official announcement about the fate of the grand prix has not yet been made.

However, in a statement obtained by Autosport from the Australian Grand Prix corporation on Friday morning, it was made clear that all other activities were pushing on as planned.

"The gates will open at 8.45am and track activity will commence as scheduled at 9.10am," said the statement.

"Ancillary events, sponsor functions, the hospitality program and all activations and fan engagement activities will commence as planned.

"The broader implications arising from the McLaren withdrawal are being discussed with the FIA and Formula 1 following lengthy discussions overnight.

"There will be a series of ongoing discussions with key stakeholders through the morning and updates on any changes to the program will be communicated as promptly as possible."

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said shortly before the gates at the track were due to open on Friday morning that he would not allow spectators to attend if any track action took place.

Speaking to 7News Sydney, he said: "On public health grounds, there will be no spectators at the grand prix this weekend if a race actually happens at all. That is a matter for them [race organisers] and they will make announcements very soon."

Autosport understands that F1 personnel were informed on Friday morning to treat things like a "normal day", amid the dramatic news of McLaren's withdrawal.

F1 teams are also heading in to the track ready to pack up their equipment, with uncertainty about where F1 goes from here.

Eight other people - a mix of various team members and reportedly a photographer - were taken into self isolation in recent days while they were tested for coronavirus. However, all tests came back negative.

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