Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo has backed the organisers of the Australian Open to run the grand slam successfully, saying the tournament will be a blueprint for postponed Australian GP.
More than 1200 tennis players, coaches and other officials were flown to Melbourne and Adelaide on charter flights organised by the Australian Open which arrived last week.
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The plan has not been without controversy, with as many as 10 positive coronavirus cases detected among passengers leading to several top players forced into hard quarantine - denying them training privileges as originally planned.
Despite the setbacks Ricciardo, who will debut for McLaren this F1 season, said he was hopeful organisers would be able to ‘pull off’ the event successfully.
The West Australian F1 race winner added that a successful Australian Open would be reassuring to F1 organisers, who are planning a return to Albert Park in November.
“I'm a massive tennis fan and I'm going to be watching it, and I'm hoping they can pull it off because it's a template in some ways for how we can get our event done in November,” Ricciardo told The Age.
“If it goes smoothly for the Open, that's great for us. It's a bold challenge for the city to take on and I admire them for that.
“It wasn't ever going to be realistic for us to do the 14-day quarantine for an event that goes for four days. Tennis, you're potentially there for two weeks so it makes more sense in that respect.”
Daniel Ricciardo’s Australian GP heartbreak
Ricciardo added that he hoped there would be no repeat of the farcical last-minute cancellation of the 2020 Australian GP.
Coincidentally it was McLaren withdrawing from the race after a team member tested positive to the coronavirus that sparked the eventual decision to call off the race, a decision which preceded the cancellation and postponement of sporting leagues and events around the world.
The 31-year-old said he was hopeful there wouldn’t be a repeat of last year’s clumsy cancellation.
“I'd hate to have come back to Melbourne in March like we did last year, everything is right about to start, and then we get called off again,” Ricciardo said.
“It was such a massive shame for everyone once; twice would have been the worst.
“Shifting it to November gives us a chance to have a proper event, and that's what we're hoping for.”
Ricciardo will debut for McLaren at the F1 season opener in Bahrain on March 28.
After finishing fifth in the driver’s standings in his second season with Renault, Ricciardo will be hoping he and teammate Lando Norris can help the resurgent McLaren return to it’s former glory as a championship-level team.
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