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Red Bull Racing, AlphaTauri and Racing Point were prepared to race, with the remaining teams not wishing to take part. One senior team member who was part of the former group told Motorsport.com: “We’re racers, and we’re here to race.”

The teams’ positions became clear at meeting with F1’s managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn at a hotel in downtown Melbourne late last night, following the announcement that McLaren would not compete after a team member was tested positive for coronavirus.

The majority of the teams wanted to cancel the race, but Christian Horner, Franz Tost and Otmar Szafnauer said their teams would take part unless the authorities say that the race can’t run in health grounds.

That triggered a complex overnight legal discussion between F1, the FIA and the Victorian government on what to do next and who would be responsible for the decision, with all the obvious financial implications. Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault – three teams with manufacturer backing – were vehemently opposed to the event going ahead, with the world champions writing a letter explaining its decision.

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On Friday morning only skeleton crews from each team arrived at the track. The pitlane garages of Ferrari and Mercedes remained closed as of 10am, an hour before FP1, which is a breach of the regulations. Renault’s garage was open but its cars were still in parc ferme condition, with covers on them.

The remaining six teams had their garages open but only three were making serious preparation to run had the track opened on time.

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