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On Thursday, McLaren Racing made the decision to withdraw from the Australian Grand Prix, Formula One's kick-off race for the season. In a statement, the team said this move follows a positive case of the coronavirus within the team's organization. McLaren did not reveal their identity but said the team member entered self-isolation shortly after showing symptoms. Local Australian healthcare officials will now treat them.
"The decision has been taken based on a duty of care not only to McLaren F1 employees and partners, but also the team's competitors, F1 fans and F1 stakeholders," the statement closed with.
Following the racing team's decision, the BBC reported this morning two F1 officials have informed the network the Australian Grand Prix will, indeed, be called off. F1 itself has not issued a confirmation yet.
McLaren's withdrawal was a blow to the Australian Grand Prix, which continued to push on as the coronavirus continues its spread around the globe. The Chinese Grand Prix was previously cancelled ahead of the season's start and the Bahrain Grand Prix organizers announced it would prohibit fans from watching the race live.
With both the Ferrari and Alpha Tauri (nee Toro Rosso) teams hailing from Italy, arguably the European epicenter of the outbreak, it's hard to imagine how the 2020 F1 season will continue with a business-as-usual attitude. Numerous sports organizations have also announced major changes to slow the virus' spread, including no live fans at NCAA basketball games and a suspension of the NBA season.
Originally published March 12, 8:22 a.m. PT.
Update, 9:10 a.m.: Adds reported information on Australian Grand Prix's cancellation.
McLaren let its engineers run free with the hyper-limited 765LT 35 Photos