MELBOURNE, Australia — At least three members of the Formula One paddock have been tested for coronavirus and have entered self-isolation on the eve of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Concerns over the spread of the coronavirus have led to teams taking extra precautions on arrival in Melbourne for this weekend’s race. After experiencing flu-like symptoms, two members of the Haas team and one member of the McLaren team have been tested for the virus and are currently in self-isolation while they await results.
This weekend’s Australian Grand Prix is due to go ahead as planned, with fans and teams set to descend on the Albert Park circuit over the next four days. Extra precautions around the race include the drivers not taking part in autograph signings and also avoiding contact with fans on the famous entrance to the track, known as the Melbourne Walk.
At Renault’s livery launch and title sponsor announcement on Wednesday evening, drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon were excused from taking part in a press conference, while Red Bull’s drivers, Max Verstappen and Alex Albon, were kept two metres from journalists at a pre-race weekend media event at Melbourne Port.
On Wednesday evening, Australia introduced restrictions on Italians entering the country, but it will not impact on F1’s Italian teams — Ferrari and Alpha Tauri — which sent its personnel to the country earlier this week.
In a statement on Monday, Formula One said it was taking a “scientific approach” to the virus, while confirming the Bahrain Grand Prix will take place without spectators present at the track.
“Due to the fluid nature of the virus, F1 will continue to take a scientific approach to the situation, acting on daily advice from the official health authorities and the advice or measures each host promoter may enact,” the statement said.
“Bahrain has taken the decision to hold this year’s Grand Prix as a participants-only event — part of a wider set of proactive measures implemented by the country to limit the virus’ spread,” it added.
“Bahrain will also implement screening procedures on entry and specialist medical facilities onsite, as well as enhanced sanitation at the circuit, additional hand washing stations and specific medical protocols to manage any suspected cases of COVID-19.”