Formula 1

Coronavirus: McLaren withdraw from Australian Grand Prix

This weekend's season-opening Australian Grand Prix is now in doubt after McLaren announced their withdrawal from the Melbourne race.

Coronavirus: McLaren withdraw from Australian Grand Prix after positive test

McLaren have withdrawn from this weekend's season-opening Formula One Australian Grand Prix after a team member tested positive for coronavirus.

It was confirmed on Wednesday that a member of staff was in isolation after "showing symptoms similar to coronavirus".

McLaren have since revealed a positive test, resulting in their withdrawal and potentially putting the entire race in doubt.

Australian Grand Prix in doubt as McLaren withdraw

A McLaren statement read: "McLaren Racing has confirmed this evening in Melbourne that it has withdrawn from the 2020 Formula One Australian Grand Prix, following the positive test of a team member for coronavirus.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 One 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 One fans and wider F1 stakeholders."

Media reports on Thursday suggested at least eight people across all F1 teams have been tested for the virus.

It remains to be seen whether the race in Melbourne will now go ahead as scheduled, with defending champion Lewis Hamilton conceding earlier in the day he was "very surprised" it had not already been postponed.

A statement issued by Formula 1 read: "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."