Three Formula One team staff members have been isolated at the Australian Grand Prix while tests are conducted for the new coronavirus, officials said yesterday, casting a shadow over the opening race of the year.
Two were from the Haas F1 team and one from McLaren.
“Two personnel were showing some symptoms so they got themselves checked out and have put themselves into self-isolation, as they should, while they await results,” a Haas official said.
A McLaren official added: “We can confirm that one team member has self-isolated as a precaution, in line with our policy, after showing symptoms similar to coronavirus. We expect to receive the results overnight. The team is operating as per normal schedule.”
They were tested at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne as the teams prepare for the race on Sunday. It is not clear what it might mean for the grand prix if the results are positive.
Victorian state Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday said it was only a matter of time before large sporting and cultural events were cancelled, but that stage had not been reached.
Earlier this week, Australian Grand Prix Corp boss Andrew Westacott ruled out following the lead of Bahrain by barring spectators, with thousands expected for the weekend race.
The Chinese GP is the only race to be postponed so far, although the first three stops on the MotoGP calendar have been either delayed or cancelled.
All F1 teams are in Australia, including Ferrari and AlphaTauri from their bases in Italy, which is now in lockdown to halt the spread of the disease.