March 12, 2020 / 5:37 AM / 23 days ago

McLaren's Sainz says paddock worried about coronavirus at Australian GP

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - McLaren driver Carlos Sainz said on Thursday everyone in the paddock at the Australian Grand Prix is concerned about the coronavirus outbreak and that only time will tell if ploughing ahead with the Formula One season-opener is the right decision.

Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 12, 2020 McLaren’s Carlos Sainz arriving to the Circuit REUTERS/Loren Elliott

A member of McLaren’s team and four crew members at rivals Haas have been tested for the coronavirus and placed in isolation.

The results of the tests are expected later on Thursday, a day before the first free practice sessions at Albert Park.

“We are obviously concerned with the situation but we are drivers and we don’t really understand what is exactly going on worldwide, if it’s safe to do it in Australia or Vietnam or whatever,” Sainz told reporters in the paddock.

“We are not miracle people, we are not governments .... and unfortunately we need to rely a bit on what others tell us.”

Drivers have held briefings with race organisers and scaled back interaction with fans and the media, with a number of teams cancelling planned interviews with television broadcasters while keeping reporters at arm’s length during open media sessions.

Some health professionals and media pundits have criticised race organisers for pressing ahead with race week, even as infections increase in Australia.

The Australian Grand Prix Corporation has declined to comment on the viability of Sunday’s race or provide any public briefing to discuss the concerns.

Sainz said he was comfortable with the advice he was receiving but conceded there was “obviously a bit of luck involved” in holding the race under the current circumstances.

“Everyone knows how quickly this thing is developing,” he said.

“Only time will tell if this is the right or the wrong thing to do.

“I am concerned, I think like everyone else in the paddock.

“But at the same time, at the moment, in my personal situation, I am in a comfortable situation.”

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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