Nine-time Grand Prix winner Mark Webber says the Australian Grand Prix Corporation made the best decision at the time to cancel the Formula 1 season-opener in March hours before the start of Free Practice.
Despite track activity running to plan on the Thursday, strong rumours that F1 was looking to cancel the event began to rise once McLaren confirmed that a team member had tested positive for Covid-19 overnight and had subsequently opted to withdraw from the event.
However, no official decision was made until late the following morning, drawing criticism from fans and spectators who had already queued at the circuit’s gates.
But speaking with the Nine Network, Webber says the promoters of his home Grand Prix had no alternative option and “did what they could.”
“It was so close to be happening,” he said on the Australian 9Now show. “We were dealing with hours at that point, weren’t we, on a global stage?
“I think that having everyone here, they were trying to do what they could. There were a few unfortunate positive tests in the paddock at that point. And the sort of capitulation point was quite nasty, the fans had arrived of course.
“It was hard to keep it quiet. There was leaking media overnight through in Italy and BBC with the UK, the time zones over there so when we woke up over here. The media, as it is, we love them. But they were onto it.
“They did what they could, the event, at that time. We needed Chase Carey, the CEO, the boss of Formula 1 to come down here and get boots on the ground and help call the event off with the Australian Grand Prix Corporation.”
Since the curtailed Australian GP back in March, Formula 1 has entered a coronavirus-induced season suspension, seeing nine further races either postponed or cancelled.
Nevertheless, Webber is hopeful that with a profession approach from both the sport’s owners Liberty Media and the FIA concerning the global pandemic the sport could return in July with the Austrian Grand Prix.
“I think that if people survive this situation and can find a solution in a professional way with the right tests, Formula 1 will return as soon as possible, hopefully in July.”
From the purposed Austrian Grand Prix plans are afoot to see the paddock have two races at the Silverstone circuit.
However, the event has been cast in fresh doubt as Prime Minister Borris Johnson confirmed over the weekend that strict nationwide quarantine and self-isolation measures are set to be imposed within the coming days.