Daniel Ricciardo has apologised to fans and expressed his devastation after being denied the chance to drive at his home Grand Prix.
The Australian Grand Prix was set to start on Friday but was cancelled after McLaren pulled out when a team member tested positive to coronavirus on Thursday.
‘SHAMBLES’: Confusion reigns as Australian GP cancelled
The decision robbed Ricciardo of another Grand Prix appearance on home soil, however he believes the correct call was made.
“I’m devastated I can’t compete at my home GP here in Melbourne & get the season started,” Ricciardo wrote on Twitter on Friday.
“Ultimately though the right decision has been made & I think everyone can understand this is something we’ve never seen before.
“Sorry to all fans who came out for the support. Much love.”
I’m devastated I can’t compete at my home GP here in Melbourne & get the season started. Ultimately though the right decision has been made & I think everyone can understand this is something we’ve never seen before. Sorry to all fans who came out for the support. Much love 💙— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) March 13, 2020
Why the Grand Prix was cancelled
Alarm bells were ringing for the opening Grand Prix after McLaren's departure on Thursday.
Another seven team officials across numerous F1 outfits had also been assessed and tested in Melbourne but were cleared of the virus.
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) said a ninth person, who was not a member of an F1 team, was still being tested.
“Last night a member of the McLaren Racing team tested positive for the COVID-19 virus,” the AGPC said.
“A further seven individuals returned negative results, confirming that they do not have the COVID-19 virus.
“Additionally, a ninth individual has been assessed and tested for the COVID-19 virus, with the results of this test pending.
“This individual is not associated with any Formula 1 team, the FIA or associated suppliers.
“Our first priority is the safety of everyone including attendees, our personnel, all event partners and members of the local community.”
Confusion reigns at Albert Park
The statement confirmed the Grand Prix's status after confusion reigned on Friday morning.
After overnight reports the Albert Park event had been called off, Australian Grand Prix boss Paul Little told Nine Network on Friday morning that it would go ahead.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews responded in Sydney by saying the grand prix would be run without spectators if it was still being held.
However, the portents weren't good for the opening grand prix after reports that the race would be scrapped following a crisis meeting between F1 hierarchy late on Thursday night.
It is believed team bosses expected confirmation of its cancellation from F1 officials or the FIA on Thursday night but it failed to happen.
However, BBC Sport reported that former world champions Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen had taken matters into their own hands and flown out of Australia on Thursday night.