Formula One cancels Australia race, Formula E suspends season amid coronavirus outbreak

Formula One has canceled this weekend’s event in Melbourne, Australia, amid the coronavirus outbreak. The decision came after the McLaren team dropped out of the race when one of its members tested positive for the COVID-19.

(Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

In the days leading up to the cancelation, reigning Formula One champ Lewis Hamilton had been critical of the organizer's intention to go ahead with the event, telling reporters that “cash is king.”

“I am really very, very surprised we’re here ... it’s shocking we’re all sitting in this room,” Hamilton said at a pre-race news conference. “It seems that the rest of the world is already reacting a little bit late ... yet Formula One continues.”

Hamilton followed up on social media after the cancellation with a message to fans that said: “I know it’s disappointing, as sport unites us as times are tough, but it’s the right call.”

Over 150 people have tested positive for the virus in Australia, including the country's minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, and married American actors Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, who are currently under quarantine.

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Earlier this week it was announced that spectators will be barred from Formula One’s second scheduled race in Bahrain on March 22, which will run behind closed doors if it goes ahead. In early February, the Shanghai Grand Prix set for April 19 was postponed indefinitely.

The FIA, racing’s international governing body, and Formula E also announced the suspension of the electric open-wheel series. Borrowing from racing terminology, Formula E said that it has “red-flagged” the season through April, which covers three planned events, and that May is currently under a “yellow” flag.

The next event marked green on the calendar is Berlin, Germany, on June 21, but the situation remains fluid. The series had previously called-off its Sanya, China, scheduled for March 21.

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