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Driver autograph sessions cancelled in Melbourne

NEWS STORY
11/03/2020

As three F1 team members self-isolate after showing symptoms, organisers in Melbourne have announced that the scheduled driver autograph sessions will not take place.

A brief statement issued by the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) on Wednesday, read:

"In the current environment, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation wishes to advise fans of a change to the format of both the autograph sessions and the operations of Melbourne Walk as they relate to both Formula 1 drivers and Supercars drivers at the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020.

Autograph sessions will now be conducted as Q&A interview sessions. Drivers will continue to utilise Melbourne Walk but will not be closely interacting with fans for selfies, autographs or other direct engagement.

We thank you for your cooperation and understanding."

Interestingly, early on Tuesday, Motorsport Australia, formerly the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS), the only nationally recognised governing and sanctioning body for four wheeled motorsport in Australia, which is affiliated with the FIA, issued a press release relating to how the coronavirus is being dealt with.

The release ended with the line: "F1 has confirmed that there will be no one-to-one fan engagement for any drivers over the race weekend. This is an effort to protect the drivers and fans equally."

However, the AGPC subsequently denied that this would be the case and Motorsport Australia pulled the line from the release.

News of the cancellation of the autograph session came at a time it was rumoured that a number of team personnel, said to be members of the McLaren and Haas squads, were showing symptoms at the track and had been put into self-isolation as a precautionary measure. Haas, of course, has close ties with Ferrari.

This was subsequently confirmed by AGPC in a follow up statement.

"The Australian Grand Prix Corporation has been informed of three Formula 1 team personnel presenting for precautionary testing and who are now all undergoing precautionary self-isolation," said AGPC CEO, Andrew Westacott in the statement.

"The AGPC is monitoring the situation in conjunction with Formula 1 and the FIA."

Australia currently has 112 confirmed cases of the virus, and despite the insistence of Formula One Management and the AGPC that the event will go ahead, there is growing opposition to this weekend's race, with the call to "Stop F1" written in the sky over Sydney earlier.

At the unveiling of Renault's 2020 livery and new title sponsor, drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban were given permission not to take part in the accompanying press conference, while at a media event Red Bulls drivers Max Verstappen and Alex Albon were kept around six feet from members of the media.

Meanwhile, Formula E has postponed the third race of the season scheduled to take place in Jakarta on 6 June. The series has already postponed the events in Rome and Sanya in China.

Check out our first pictures from Melbourne, here.

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1. Posted by Superbird70, 11/03/2020 11:15

"Monitoring situation with FIA and F1, but not health authorities! Follow the money at all costs."

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