MELBOURNE, Australia -- It may have taken longer than anyone ever expected, or had hoped, but in the end the correct call was made with Formula One, the FIA and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation coming together to cancel the season-opening Australian Grand Prix amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Doubt was already surrounding the race in Melbourne, but when a McLaren team member tested positive to the COVID-19 virus on Thursday evening, and the team subsequently withdraw itself from the event, it quickly became clear the grand prix weekend could not go ahead as planned.
Formula One officially cancelled the race at 10:08am [AEDT], sending thousands of fans away from Albert Park. The Australian Grand Prix confirmed all ticket holders would be receiving a refund.
Formula 1 and the FIA, with the full support of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC), have taken the decision that all Formula 1 activity for the Australian Grand Prix is cancelled pic.twitter.com/rHbc7hlNvH— Formula 1 (@F1) March 12, 2020
Within minutes of Formula One's announcement, drivers began posting their own messages to social media.
While many were disappointed the beginning of the season had to be postponed, all were completely understanding of the decision.
I'm devastated I can't compete at my home GP here in Melbourne & get the season started. Ultimately though the right decision has been made & I think everyone can understand this is something we've never seen before. Sorry to all fans who came out for the support. Much love 💙— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) March 13, 2020
We'll have to wait a bit longer to get back in the car. I was really looking forward to get back behind the wheel but this is the best decision, the health of everyone is the priority. Stay safe everyone ❤️ pic.twitter.com/vKvo5lCtxG— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) March 12, 2020
Was so pumped to go racing this weekend, but the safety, health and well being of everyone is by far the most important thing and this was the right thing to do. Stay safe everyone and look after each other 🙏🏼— Kevin Magnussen (@KevinMagnussen) March 12, 2020
All I want to do is race. But safety and health comes first. Hope to be racing soon again! Stay safe everyone 🙏🏼#VB77 #F1 #AusGP #Covid_19 @MercedesAMGF1 @ausgrandprix @F1 📷 @SebastianKawka pic.twitter.com/q4JdPJdoUx— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) March 13, 2020
Can't remember ever being more excited for a race weekend than this one - but cancelling was absolutely the right call. Eveybody's safety has to come first. Stay safe people 🙏— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) March 12, 2020
No race here in Melbourne. Feels like a big thing for us as we prepared very hard for it BUT actually a very small thing compare to the challenge the world is facing right now. Stay safe everyone and try to fight #Covid_19 as much as you can. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/rHcquFLgNz— Romain Grosjean (@RGrosjean) March 12, 2020
Stay safe everyone, and let's hope this whole COVID-19 situation gets better soon. Shame we can't race here in Australia, but keeping everybody health & safety is priority. Was really looking forward to start the season, but we will have to wait. Lets hope for better news soon❤️ pic.twitter.com/Shqz41hWPE— PIERRE GASLY 🇫🇷 (@PierreGASLY) March 13, 2020
Will have to wait some more days to get officially back racing. Of course, very disappointed but this is the best decision for us drivers, teams and fans. Hopefully the whole situation will get better soon🤞🏼Stay safe. #EO31 pic.twitter.com/Q3I3Z8GIDa— Esteban Ocon (@OconEsteban) March 13, 2020
Spare a thought for Canadian Nicholas Latifi.
The 24-year-old was set to make his Formula One debut in Melbourne, racing with Williams, but alas his first grand prix will have to wait.
It goes without saying that I was extremely excited to finally make my debut in Formula 1 this weekend but it will have to wait. The safety and well being of everyone involved has to be the priority. Stay safe everyone and hopefully we can go racing sometime soon🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/38W0gbxXlt— Nicholas Latifi (@NicholasLatifi) March 13, 2020
The Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled to run behind closed doors on March 22nd, but it remains to be seen whether the status of that race changes in the wake of Australia being cancelled.
Last month, the Chinese Grand Prix, which was set to take place on April 19th, was postponed. Formula One is still hoping to reschedule the Shanghai event in the second half of the year.