Hamilton: ‘Shocking’ that Australian GP is still on

World champion Lewis Hamilton says it is “shocking” that Formula 1 has gone ahead with the Australian Grand Prix amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

While governments around the world are imposing lockdowns in their countries, and other major sporting events have been cancelled, Hamilton says he is baffled about why the season opener has gone ahead.

“I am very, very surprised we are here,” he said. “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. It seems like the rest of the world is reacting, probably a bit late, but already this morning we have seen [Donald] Trump shutting down the borders from Europe to the United States. The NBA is being suspended and F1 continues to go on.”

“I am very, very surprised that we are here,” said Hamilton, when asked by Motorsport.com if he was comfortable with being at the grand prix.

“I think it’s great that we have races, but for me it’s shocking that we’re all sitting in this room.

“So many fans here already today and it seems like the rest of the world is reacting, probably a little bit late, but already this morning we’ve seen [Donald] Trump shutting down the borders from Europe to the States. We are seeing the NBA 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. So no is your answer.”

Pushed later on why he felt the race was going ahead amid growing concerns about safety, with five F1 personnel already being tested for coronavirus, Hamilton responded: “Cash is king, 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. 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.

“I was walking through and seeing just everything going ahead as normal, like it’s a normal day. So, I just hope all the fans stay safe, and I really hope we go through this weekend without seeing any fatalities.”

With Australian medical chiefs having said that they will have to quarantine any teams if a staff member is confirmed as having the virus, which could potentially force the grand prix to be abandoned, Hamilton suggested that potential delays in getting test results would help organisers as these would arrive after the race had run.

Asked if he felt the race should be called off if the tests are positive, he 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.”

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