Officials: Australian Grand Prix still a go

The 2020 Formula 1 season is still set to start in ten days at the Australian GP in Melbourne despite mounting concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, according to race official Andrew Westacott.

Having seen the first race of the 2020 MotoGP season in Qatar cancelled due to the virus, Westacott, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation’s CEO, has released a statement reiterating the F1 opener will still go on as scheduled.

“The health and safety of everyone at the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020 is paramount,” Westacott began.

“The Australian Grand Prix Corporation has robust health, safety and emergency management arrangements in place at each event and we will continue to work collaboratively with health agencies and related government and emergency services organisations in addressing this matter.

“We continue to closely monitor the situation in the lead-up to the Grand Prix and will take guidance from subject matter experts, including Victorian and National Chief Health Officers and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.

“Formula 1 has confirmed that the Australian Grand Prix is going ahead and we’re looking forward to welcoming them and the teams to Melbourne in the next one to two weeks.”

However, whether or not the race is allowed to be held does not inherently guarantee all members of the F1 paddock will be allowed to attend. The Australian government is reported to be considering restrictions on travel to and from Italy, where the virus has hit particularly hard and many F1 personnel are based.

Already, non-Australian citizens have been banned from entering the country from China or Iran, the latter of which was introduced over the weekend.

Amidst the uncertainty, Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has asked for ‘assurances’ for his staff before attending, with the first personnel set to arrive this week before the race runs from March 13-15.