McLaren withdraws from Australian GP after positive coronavirus test

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McLaren has withdrawn from this weekend's Australian Grand Prix after one of its team members contracted coronavirus.

The British team tested a member of the staff for the flu-like virus on Thursday and confirmed the result had been positive. McLaren says the team member immediately entered self-isolation as soon as they showed symptoms and will now be treated by local health authorities.

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The team's statement added that it has been prepared for this eventuality and the employee will enter a period of quarantine. The Haas F1 team tested four members of their staff on Thursday, but all four cases came back negative.

The following day, F1 confirmed the race had been cancelled.

The race organisers, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC), released a statement saying it "is currently in discussions with Formula 1, the FIA and the Department of Health and Human Services in relation to the broader implications of this test result."

Teams are due for their first track time on Friday, when F1 weekends traditionally hold two 90-minute practice sessions.

During Thursday's media day, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton had already questioned why F1 had committed to racing in Melbourne, saying "cash is king." Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel added that should anyone related to F1 die as a result of the spread of coronavirus, the drivers -- through their union, the Grand Prix Drivers Association -- would be forced to take collective action to put a halt to racing.

"I think my stand -- and I hope others would agree -- is that we hope it doesn't get that far," Vettel said. "If it were to get that far, then for sure you would pull the handbrake [on the race]."

F1's opening race was due to go ahead as normal with spectators, although next weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix is set to go ahead behind closed doors. McLaren said it is too early to speculate on whether it could participate in that race.

F1's fourth race of the coming season, the Chinese Grand Prix, has already been postponed from its original April 19 date.