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What they said: Drivers and teams react to the delayed start of the F1 season

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A deserted display of the drivers is pictured after the Formula One Australian Grand Prix was

The 2020 Formula 1 season has been delayed after the spread of the coronavirus forced the cancellation of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Thursday.

That followed the postponement of the Chinese Grand Prix, which was scheduled to be held in April, and on Friday morning both the Bahrain Grand Prix and the new Vietnam Grand Prix were also put on hold while the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Formula 1 and the FIA are now hopeful the season can begin in late May, but stressed that will be regularly reviewed as the situation develops.

Meanwhile, here's how the F1 community responded after the news broke that the Australian Grand Prix would not go ahead and the start of the new season would therefore be delayed.

READ MORE: How Formula 1 approached the Australian GP cancellation

Renault

Renault’s two drivers were perhaps looking forward to the Australian Grand Prix more than most, given it is the home race for Daniel Ricciardo, and the first Grand Prix back as a race driver for Esteban Ocon, who spent last year as a test driver for Mercedes.

But the team said they fully supported the decision to cancel the event. "We are disappointed not to be able to race in front of the passionate Australian fans who have shown such support of our team and Daniel, however the health and safety of our team members and the wider F1 community is of paramount importance,” they said, adding: "Our thoughts are also with our partner team, McLaren Racing as they deal with a confirmed case of COVID-19."

What the drivers said:

McLaren

McLaren were at the centre of the situation in Melbourne after one of their team personnel tested positive for coronavirus on Thuesday, forcing them to withdraw from the event before it was cancelled.

The team explained they had put measures in place to try to prevent it spreading further, including placing those employees who had been in close contact with the person who tested positive into a period of quarantine.

"Other members of the team have been cleared to return to the paddock to pack down team equipment before travelling back to the UK. On arrival in the UK, no race team member will return to the McLaren Technology Centre for a period of 14 days, as a precautionary measure," the team said.

What the drivers said:

Mercedes

Defending champions Mercedes travelled to Melbourne as favourites to take victory and kickstart their title defence for 2020, but again, they stressed the safety of the people involved was more important.

"We share the disappointment of the sport's fans that this race cannot go ahead as planned," the team said. "However, the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our team members and of the wider F1 community are our absolute priority."

What the drivers said:

Ferrari

Ferrari also backed the decision to cancel the race in light of the circumstances, saying in a statement: "The safety of all team members is our number one priority, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve rapidly.

"We feel very sorry for the fans who were due to come to Albert Park and support the Formula 1 race with all their usual enthusiasm, as well as all those who would have been watching from around the world."

What the drivers said:

Red Bull

After their encouraging performance in pre-season testing, Red Bull arrived in Australia with genuine designs on taking the fight to Mercedes and perhaps even going for victory. But after the cancellation of the race they said the team's focus would now switch to getting their personnel home safely.

"We share the disappointment of Formula 1 fans, but the safety of the teams, fans, media and circuit staff remains of absolute priority. We now await further information from the FIA on the status of future races," they added.

What the drivers said:

Williams

Williams lamented the fact that the much-anticipated race had to be cancelled, but said they fully agreed with the call from F1, the FIA and the race organisers.

"Whilst the decision, taken after confirmation that a member of another team has tested positive for COVID-19, will sadly deprive the many loyal fans in Melbourne the chance to see the race, the safety of both every member of the team, and the fans, is absolutely the priority," they said.

What the drivers said:

Haas

American team Haas said they accepted the decision, despite their disappointment at not being able to compete in the season opening race.

In a statement they said: "The safety and health of everyone involved in the running of the event is paramount, as is that of the thousands of fans who had invested in attending the Australian Grand Prix, and while disappointed not to be able to compete this weekend in Melbourne – and share that passion for Formula 1, Haas F1 Team accepts the subsequent actions taken by the parties concerned in light of the circumstances faced by the global COVID-19 situation."

What the drivers said:

Racing Point

Racing Point were another team that were looking likely to be strong contenders in the hotly contested midfield battle in Australia after their new car - which was designed along the same philosophy used by champions Mercedes - looked very quick in testing in Barcelona last month.

The team themselves have so far not spoken out about the decision to cancel the race, but Sergio Perez said that despite arriving in Melbourne full of enthusiam for the race, "the most important thing is everyone's health". He urged everyone to follow the recommended measures to limit further spread, adding: "let's take good care of ourselves".

What the drivers said:

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo said they welcomed the cancellation of the race, in light of the confirmation of a case of COVID-19 within the paddock.

"The health and safety of our team personnel, as well as of our guests, fellow competitors, Formula One personnel and fans, is our main priority and we support this decision in our commitment to ensure we do our utmost to keep each one of our team members safe," they said.

Antonio Giovinazzi echoed that statement, saying in a tweet that "health comes first". He added: "This is the moment of courage for a sport that runs at over 300 km/h, but which has found the courage to stop."

What the drivers said:

AlphaTauri

"Like all motor racing fans, we are very disappointed that the 2020 Australian Grand Prix will not take place," an AlphaTauri statement said.

"However, given the escalating situation regarding the Coronavirus, which is now classified as a pandemic, the decision to cancel the event, taken by the FIA, Formula 1 and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, is the right one. The health and safety of our workforce has to be our main priority and, as a team based in Italy, we are also aware of the worsening situation back in Europe, which is worrying for all our staff.

"Formula 1 will recover from this situation, and we rely on its governing body and the commercial rights holder to monitor the situation and guide all the F1 teams accordingly," they added.

What the drivers said:

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Ross Brawn explains the decision to cancel the Australian Grand Prix

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