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Hamilton: "Shocking" Australian GP is still on

NEWS STORY
12/03/2020

It is somewhat ironic that at a time the drivers' union - the Grand Prix Drivers' Association - was giving its support to the "Australian health authorities, the FIA, F1 and our teams" for its handling of the coronavirus crisis, Lewis Hamilton, arguably the union's most important member and certainly the driver with the highest public profile, was not singing from the same hymn sheet.

"I am very, very surprised we are here," he said, when asked at today's official press conference. "I think it's great that we can have races, but for me it's shocking that we're all sitting in this room.

"There are so many fans here already today," he continued. "It seems like the rest of the world is reacting, probably a bit late, but already this morning we have seen Trump shutting down the borders from Europe (Schengen) to the United States. The NBA is being suspended and F1 continues to go on.

"I saw Jackie Stewart this morning, looking fit and healthy and well, and some people as I walked into the paddock, some elderly individuals. So it's a concern for the people here. It's definitely concerning for me."

Asked why he feels the race is going ahead, despite the increasing concern in recent weeks, especially from the media, the world champion didn't pull his punches: "Cash is king," he replied, "but honestly I don't know. I can't really add much.

"I don't feel like I should shy away from the fact of my opinion," he added. "The fact is we are here and I just urge everyone to really just be as careful as you can be in touching doors and surfaces. I hope everyone's got hand sanitizer, and really for the fans I really, really hope that they take precautions."

With five F1 team members currently awaiting the results of their tests, when asked how the sport should react if they proved positive, Hamilton said: "It is not for me to make the decision. But I heard that the results are not going to come back for five days or something: coincidentally."

"It is very difficult having a fair judgement," added Sebastian Vettel, one of three directors of the GPDA, "but I do realise a lot of sporting competitions get cancelled and it is fair to ask the question why you are here.

"We have to trust the FIA and for them to take all the precautions," he continued, "but the answer no one can give you is how much you can control what is going on.

"You try to control the situation for yourself as much as you can," he added. "Some are more relaxed about handshakes, some not. Some laugh it off.

"I don't know how serious it is. You have to put yourself in other people's hands. We did in getting here. The flights weren't cancelled. But within that you are in your own bubble and you try to control it as much as you can. It is right to take care and take precautions - how much, there are a lot of questions that are very difficult to answer."

Asked if there was the possibility of drivers refusing to race should the situation deteriorate, he said: "My stand would be hope it doesn't get that far. If it gets that far, you'd pull the handbrake."

Even more ironic than the Briton's stance compared to the GPDA's, is the fact that just as the press conference came to the end of its opening phase, where the floor was thrown open to the general F1 media, coverage was pulled.

Initially, it was claimed there was a "technical fault" before coverage moved on to a different programme altogether.

Up until then, Hamilton, Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Nicholas Latifi had been asked various questions about testing, their cars, the off-season and the bushfires, with not a single mention of the topic actually dominating the paddock this weekend and possibly the season... the coronavirus.

How ironic therefore that F1, now owned by a media company, chose to pull the plug, effectively censoring what race fans will get to hear.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Melbourne, here.

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1. Posted by 4-Wheel Drifter, 12/03/2020 23:07

"You chaps are mostly reacting to uncertainty which is one of the first realities for living on this planet. What we DON'T know is vastly greater than what we do. That, in fact, is one of the reasons we race. But the people who know about pandemics are all pretty much in agreement: it's bad and it will get worse. The only question is how much worse? In the states, we're on the verge of cancelling all events with large crowds. Which is defined as any crowd greater than 50 to 250 people. Not only is it likely that the F1 season is cancelled; it's likely that ALL sporting events will be. Probably by April the Indy 500 will be cancelled. The Baseball season has just cancelled Spring Training and ithe Season opening has been postponed two weeks. The NBA has suspended playing until further notice. Time to re-think things for sure. Hopgood's note about Felyman's commemt on the Challenger disaster is pertinent here: when lives are at stake you err on the side of caution or you're an idiot. that there are many idiots and that we give them, in a democracy, votes, speaks to our confidence they're safely out numbered. I love racing and F1 almost as much as I love Bach & Coltrane --but I value life even more. Let's just accept that we may have a shorter season. That the virus will abate in time for five or six races which, for that reason,will be even more exciting than usual."

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2. Posted by Superbird70, 12/03/2020 19:01

"@Bill Hopgood, well said. My country has a decent health care system but the only way to minimize the human casualties is to flatten the curve so that the health system can cope with the influx of infected patients. Italy played it correctly, and they are still suffering because they were just a little too slow. Hopefully, the Australian people don't suffer because of this. Australia has had its fair share of problems lately. "

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3. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 12/03/2020 17:49

"@simon and others
In a few hours expect that the Australian GP will be cancelled, perhaps most of the season.

https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca

F1 is very data driven and the teams and one hopes the FIA in this case, as well as Liberty act on the data.

If they don't have the data then they need to use reason as Richard Feynman (I'm paraphrasing) said at the Roger's Commission enquiry into the Challenger disaster, specifically around the decision to launch in cold weather.

I got that from F1 and Senna fan Dr Peter Attia's latest "The Drive" podcast:
https://peterattiamd.com/start-here/"

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4. Posted by elsiebc, 12/03/2020 15:33

""Cash is king" Spoken like a true virtue signalling one percent-er. The vast majority of people who will make money from this weekend's activities are collecting paychecks."

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5. Posted by Simon in Adelaide, 12/03/2020 12:49

"@Superbird70. Oh I do care .......... about facts, about independent research, about the views of informed professionals; everything else is fluff to be treated with the contempt it deserves - those who get their information from Twitter are twits."

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6. Posted by Superbird70, 12/03/2020 10:24

"And that dear Simon is the problem. We have ceased to care, about anything other than ourselves."

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7. Posted by Simon in Adelaide, 12/03/2020 8:11

"Well I am not forcing him to race.

I am fed up with celebrities and the rest of the social media world giving me their opinions I DO NOT CARE."

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8. Posted by Fambank, 12/03/2020 7:52

"If you so object, then surely you could refuse to race.
Let your lawyers sort out the details for you.
From your moral high you judge us all, ready to say "I told you so."

But it's "Still I race" I suppose.
"

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