Steiner: Team disagreement on cancellation “normal”
Haas Formula 1 team boss Gunther Steiner says it was “normal” that there were clashing views among Formula 1 teams when cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix was first discussed.
Team bosses met with Ross Brawn last Thursday evening in Melbourne shortly after McLaren had confirmed that it was withdrawing from the race.
Ferrari was initially pushing for a cancellation, with the Italian marque’s partner team Alfa Romeo and Renault soon joining.
Others were prepared to at least run on Friday, and then make a call if there were further infections in the paddock. However, during the discussions Mercedes switched camps, and that proved to be decisive, with Haas and Williams agreeing to go with the majority.
Ultimately Red Bull, AlphaTauri and Racing Point were the only three still keen to take to the track if the authorities deemed it safe to do so.
The prospect of just a handful of cars running contributed to the decision to cancel the race, with the announcement coming shortly before the scheduled start of FP1.
“It’s normal,” Steiner told Motorsport.com of the debate. “Each team is structured differently. Some are part of a big corporation, some are privately owned, you cannot expect that everybody’s on the same page here.
“We need to make it as safe as possible. It’s easy now with hindsight to know everything better, but it takes a lot of moving parts to come to a decision like this.
“You’ve got a lot of parties involved, you’ve got a local promoter, you’ve got F1, you’ve got the FIA, you’ve got 10 teams with different backgrounds, they’re from different countries, so everybody’s got his own little problem to deal with.
"We need to find a compromise, and in the end this was the compromise that came out.
“The decision is not easy, because you come here to race. As a racer that is what you want to do. And it’s the first race of the season as well, so you’re all fresh and cannot wait to go racing.
"Then this comes in and then you need to pace yourself and say there are a lot of safety reasons for a lot of people, and the whole world is upside down at the moment, because of this virus. It’s very difficult to reason about it, but a decision comes out of it.”
Four Haas team members who showed symptoms were isolated and tested, and the results proved to be negative. Steiner says his team took all the precautions it could.
“I think we were very conscious of it," said Steiner. "We said to everybody, if you don’t feel well, we want to bring it up, because there’s no point to be the people that spread it. We had four of them, they all came back negative, thank god.
“We were waiting anxiously to get the results, and all was good for us. McLaren had one case and I think they acted very consciously and in a good way, and made sure they were safe.”
Steiner concluded: “I’m pretty sure we will race this year and hopefully we’ll get this virus under control for the whole world, so the world can go back to a normal life.”
Hamilton moves to end coronavirus speculation
F1 news recap: 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix