For Daniel Ricciardo, this hasn’t been the homecoming he would’ve had in mind. The Aussie did not take part in a press conference scheduled after Renault revealed the R.S.20. The Coronavirus impact resulted in the French team excusing both drivers from media duties following the car launch.
Renault’s move is understandable, considering the epidemic may or may not have spread to the paddock. Earlier in the day, F1 team members displayed symptoms of Coronavirus.
3 team members from McLaren and Haas are currently in self-isolation after showing symptoms of the epidemic. This has spooked the paddock and F1 is currently on high alert to prevent the disease from spreading.
Fans were in for some bad news earlier in the day as track authorities have cancelled autograph sessions. Instead, these have been replaced by Q&A sessions to keep drivers and fans safe. Apart from this, F1 teams are enforcing a ‘safe distance’ between drivers and the media for any interactions.
Speaking at Renault’s livery and car reveal, team principal Cyril Abiteboul said:
“Obviously as we were planning this event, we were expecting a little bit more of a light atmosphere,
“Usually it’s a moment that we all love when we are racing in Formula 1, so I wanted to make a mention of that.
“I also wanted to say that our drivers were supposed to be with us for that event, but due to the situation, we’ve excused them from the occasion.
“I hope you understand why we are taking such measures.”
The AGPC also acknowledged the 3 team personnel who are currently in self-isolation. Track authorities released a statement claiming they would monitor the situation and keep the FIA and F1 in touch.
A usually vibrant Albert Park Circuit now bears the look of a ghost town. Fans can only hope that more negative developments in the paddock don’t jeopardize the race weekend.
The fast-spreading epidemic has led to a sombre atmosphere in what was otherwise a carnival for F1 fans. With the winter break nearly over, fans are ready to witness the return of the pinnacle of motorsport.