The decision was made earlier today, and after McLaren's CEO Zak Brown and team boss Andreas Seidl informed Formula 1 and the FIA, a statement was shared on the team’s Twitter.
“McLaren Racing has confirmed this evening in Melbourne that it has withdrawn from the 2020 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, following the positive test of a team member for the coronavirus,” it read.
“The team member was tested and self-isolated as soon as they started to show symptoms and will now be treated by local healthcare authorities.”
The statement goes on to say that the quarantined employee has their full support, and that today’s decision was taken “based on a duty of care not only to McLaren F1 employees and partners, but also to the team's competitors, Formula 1 fans and wider F1 stakeholders”.
The statement was a stark contrast to McLaren’s earlier tweets, which showed the manufacturer’s motorhome already set up and press interviews well underway.
Coronavirus has seriously affected sporting events around the world, with many cancelled and others held behind closed doors. Formula 1 has already seen five team members go into self-isolation with potential symptoms, prompting Lewis Hamilton to express his shock that the event is still going ahead.
“I am very, very surprised we are here,” the world champion said in Thursday’s press conference.
“It's great we have races but it's shocking we are sitting in this room.”
The virus was yesterday declared a pandemic, and is expected to affect events for months to come, including on the first ever Vietnamese Grand Prix on the 5th April.