Lewis Hamilton says it is shocking that Formula 1’s season is set to go ahead with the Australian Grand Prix in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The opening race of the season is due to take place on Sunday, although the announcement by McLaren that it is withdrawing after a team member tested positive for coronavirus could force reconsideration of that. While Hamilton says he wasn’t concerned for his own well being in traveling to Melbourne, he says the way the rest of the world is reacting to the global situation is not being reflected within F1.
“I felt OK traveling out here,” Hamilton said. “Naturally being on a flight with a lot of people and stopping at an airport full of people, I didn’t really think too hard on it, I was just trying to make sure that I was taking all the precautions I could and not touching things and using hand sanitizer.
“I am really very, very surprised that we are here. I think in motorsport it’s great that we have racing, but I think it’s really shocking that we are all sitting in this room. There are so many fans here today and it seems like the rest of the world is reacting, probably a little bit late, but we have already seen this morning that (Donald) Trump has shut down the borders with Europe to the States and you are seeing the NBA being suspended, yet Formula 1 continues to go on.
“I saw Jackie Stewart this morning looking fit and healthy and well in the lift, and I saw some people as I walked into the paddock, some elderly individuals. It’s a concern I think for the people here — it’s quite a big circus that’s come here and it’s definitely concerning for me.”
Giving a strong opinion on the current situation, when asked why he believes the race is still going ahead, Hamilton replied: “Cash is king.
“I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know. I can’t add much more to it. I don’t feel like I should shy away from my opinion. The fact is we are here and I just really want to be as careful as we can be in touching doors and surfaces, and I hope everyone has hand sanitizer.
“For the fans, I really hope they are taking precautions. I was walking through and everything is going ahead as normal, like it is a normal day, but I don’t think it really is. I just hope all the fans stay safe and I hope we get through this weekend and we don’t have any fatalities or things in the future.”