Carey says F1 "made the right decisions" over Australian GP

Luke Smith

McLaren reported on Thursday evening that one of its team members had tested positive for coronavirus, prompting the team to withdraw from the grand prix immediately.

Teams held talks overnight regarding the possibility of the race going ahead, but it was not until 10:08am local time in Australia on Friday - less than two hours before the planned start of first practice - that the grand prix was cancelled.

F1 faced criticism for its handling of the situation after a number of figures aired concerns ahead of the race weekend.

Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said on Thursday it was "shocking" that officials wanted the race to go ahead in light of global events.

Speaking on Friday following the cancellation of the race, F1 CEO and chairman Carey said the series' bosses had done their best to manage a "very fluid situation".

"I think we've made the right decisions, I think we worked well with our partners," Carey said.

"I think we're all disappointed to not have it, but these are challenging times and I think we've made the decisions we have to make.

"We spent the last evening really getting input from everybody. It was a joint decision between the FIA, our Australian partners, ourselves, and certainly [with] input from the teams. As would be expected, there were a range of views.

"We were dealing with things real time in a very difficult challenging situation. Were there differing views and differing opinions? Yes. I think that's what everybody tried to wrestle through.

"But I think we got to the right place, and I think we all agree we got to the right decision."

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There was an escalation of responses to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic in the build-up to the grand prix weekend after most of the paddock personnel had arrived in Australia.

United States president Donald Trump announced a travel ban to mainland Europe, resulting in the cancellation of the World Endurance Championship round at Sebring.

The NBA season was also suspended with immediate effect, while the first positive coronavirus cases were confirmed for one player and one manager in the Premier League.

"I think we made the right decision as it evolved. We feel we worked well with all of our partners to make that decision," Carey said.

"Obviously we don't control how various events evolve. In many places around the world, the situation in just 24 or 48 hours is very different than it was not that long ago. People were traveling between the Europe and United States and 24 hours later, they're no longer traveling between those countries.

"I think these are issues that you sort of have to deal with, you know, real time, make efficient and effective decisions."

Asked by Motorsport.com if F1 had considered cancelling the race before teams travelled out to Melbourne, Carey replied: "We've been certainly discussing this issue before last week. It's not like it came out of the blue.

"I think we made the decision to come here based on what we knew last week, what the situation was here on the ground, the events they were having, and the degree of the number of infections here.

"The situation in Europe was broadly different a week ago to what it is today. But certainly we were aware. That was something that we had to evaluate.

"I think a week ago, when the teams started travelling here, we felt it was the right decision, and the situation changed in many ways in the end.

"We were always aware, and certainly have been having those discussions and looking at many contingencies given what we're dealing with."