Authorities forced to call off Australian Grand Prix amid growing coronavirus fears

AUTO-PRIX-F1-ESP-TEST

This weekend's Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled due to fears surrounding the spread of the coronavirus.

The opening event of the calendar has been under growing threat and, after a frightful escalation in the last couple of days, organisers have reluctantly called it off.

McLaren had already withdrawn from race weekend after one of their team members tested positive for the virus and, with mounting unease in the paddock, the FIA had no choice but to scrap the race.

The British based team revealed in a tweet that they simply could not take part in the race and were focussed on ensuring their employee was given all the resources they needed to battle the virus.

Lewis Hamilton had earlier expressed his shock that the race had been given the green-light in the face of an increased number of global cases while Sebastian Vettel threatened that the drivers would 'pull the handbrake' on the race should it become necessary to do so.

There had been stern protests in host city Melbourne over the last couple of days calling for the race to be cancelled with locals desperate to avoid an influx of international travellers to their city.

Unfortunately, the rapid escalation came only after teams and crew had arrived in the country and the FIA have been left scrambling ever since.

Meetings were held through the night in Melbourne after it was initially decided that Friday practice would take place as normal.

However, according to the BBC, insiders expressed concerns of further cases developing in amongst the hustle and bustle of the busy paddock.

As a result, it was decided to call the race off.

The Chinese Grand Prix has already been postponed and, with the inaugural Vietnamese showpiece shrouded in doubt, F1 organisers will have to come to terms with what could be a very disrupted calendar.

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