Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes has expressed his surprise at the Australian Grand Prix going ahead as scheduled despite the coronavirus outbreak. Several members of Formula One staff have been isolated with limited interactions between fans and drivers as part of the safety measures to counter what has now been declared as a pandemic. Also Read - Coronavirus in Gujarat: 14-month-old Toddler Dies of COVID-19 in Jamnagar

Melbourne hosts the traditional season opening race which is to be held on March 15 this year. Also Read - New York Leads Coronavirus Death Toll With 731 Fatalties in 24 Hours

“I am really very, very surprised that we’re here,” Hamilton said during a media interaction on Thursday. “I don’t think it’s great that we have races but it really is shocking that we’re all sitting in this room.” Also Read - Rishabh Pant is Just 20 And Media Scrutinises Him so Much: Rohit Sharma to Yuvraj Singh During Instagram Chat Amid COVID-19 Lockdown

Citing the examples of the preventive steps taken across the globe in the past 24 hours, Hamilton said it’s ‘concerning’ that the race will go ahead. “It seems that the rest of the world is already reacting a little bit late, but you have seen this morning with (President Donald) Trump shutting down the border to Europe to the States, the NBA suspended, yet Formula One continues to go on. It’s a concern I think for the people here. It’s quite a big circus that’s come here, it’s definitely concerning for me,” he said.

“Cash is king,” the six-time world champion didn’t mince his words when asked why he thinks the race hasn’t been called off.

However, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel gave a measured reply saying he trusts the International Automobile Federation for having taken precautions in wake of the coronavirus outbreak. “Obviously we have to trust the FIA (International Automobile Federation) to take precautions as much as they can, but I think the answer that nobody can give you at the moment is how much you can control what is going on,” Vettel said.

Five Formula One team members (four from Haas and one from McLaren) have shown flu like symptoms leading to their isolation till the time the results of their tests return.

As per reports, Australia has witnessed 150 cases of coronavirus so far.