McLaren team member ‘free of symptoms’ after positive coronavirus test

Formula 1
The McLaren garage

McLaren say the team member who tested positive for coronavirus at the Australian Grand Prix is “recovering well” and is now free of symptoms.

The McLaren employee’s positive test on Thursday in Melbourne triggered the cancellation of the race after a series of meetings into Friday morning.

All McLaren personnel who travelled to Australia will stay away from the factory for two weeks as a precaution.

Fourteen who had close contact with the man remain in Melbourne in quarantine.

They are being helped through their 14-day self-isolation by racing director Andrea Stella, who volunteered to stay behind to support them.

McLaren Racing chief executive officer Zak Brown said the decision to withdraw from the race was “as a racer the hardest decision I’ve had to take, but as CEO it was the easiest”.

Brown said McLaren had spent time “scenario-planning” before travelling to the season-opening Grand Prix “so we knew what our options were in the event of various outcomes”.

He said: “[Team principal] Andreas [Seidl] and I had already agreed that if we had a positive test in the garage, there was only one option.”

Seidl said in the same team statement that his leadership team of Stella and technical director James Key had “showed their character and coolness under pressure” and he paid tribute to the reaction of drivers Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz.

“They have been obviously concerned about their team-mates,” Seidl said. “We have to keep them physically away from the rest of the team, even though they are both fine, but they are in constant communication.”

Seidl added: “We also appreciate our fellow teams in the paddock, who offered immediate help on Friday to dismantle the garage and pack the freight, which was obviously a challenge for us missing 14 of our core guys. This is the spirit of F1 and racing we all embrace.”

Brown said that he and Seidl were now “focused on the dialogue with F1, the FIA and the other teams on working through the 2020 calendar and managing the team over the next few months”.

He added: “It’s early days and this is an evolving situation but we are planning ahead and will stay flexible.”

The first four races of the season, in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam and China, have all been called off as a result of the coronavirus crisis and it is uncertain when the F1 season will start.

After governing body the FIA and commercial rights holder F1 gave differing potential start dates in concurrent statements on Friday, initial plans are understood to focus on a hope to start at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku at the beginning of June, and to fit in as many of the postponed races as possible, although some will inevitably fall by the wayside.

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