Brawn defends Liberty's handling of Australian GP after cancellation

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Formula 1 motorsport boss Ross Brawn has defended the actions of Liberty Media in the build-up to the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix.

The sport’s bosses have come under huge criticism after fans were left furious at the gates of Albert Park on Friday morning, this following a night of talks with F1 teams, local authorities and the FIA in the wake of a McLaren team member testing positive for Coronavirus.

For many though, F1 shouldn’t even have travelled to Melbourne in the first place but Brawn insisted, at the time the call was made, it appeared safe enough to do so.

“We have a big impact on the economy here, and it has an impact on our economy,” said Brawn in a YouTube interview with F1’s Will Buxton.

“Formula 1 has to function, we have to make it work. So we looked at the whole situation and when we decided to go ahead, it looked a bit different to how it looks now.

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“Probably what’s surprised everybody is the rapid expansion of this problem. The escalation of cases, certainly in countries like Italy where it’s gone almost vertical, no one I think could have expected or predicted that.”

Indeed, though Italy has now been placed in a nationwide lockdown to try and contain the Covid-19 outbreak, that didn’t kick in until just after F1 personnel had left for Melbourne.

“I spoke with Mattia Binotto at Ferrari many times over the past few weeks, and his mood changed from what he was seeing in Italy, and what we have to look at in Italy,” Brawn continued.

“We were kind of on this ship that sailed and we were optimistic that we could get through it, that we could get Formula 1 started, and we can have a great race, and just bring a bit of relief in difficult times.

“Once we had the positive case here, and once one team couldn’t race because of that, then clearly we had a problem we had to address.”

Another major criticism was the some 12-hour delay between McLaren announcing their withdrawal from the event after their positive test and F1, the FIA and race organizers deciding to cancel.

“We just had so many issues to work through,” Brawn said.

“We had to get the teams together again, hold a meeting. It just all takes time. You can’t just make a decision, you’ve got so many factors to take into account.

“It was a pretty stressful period, and I think considering we dealt with everything in 12 hours, on something that important, it was good.”

Later on Friday, it was confirmed the next two races in Bahrain and Vietnam will also not go ahead and it’s possible the 2020 season may not begin until the Azerbaijan GP in June, something that will have a major impact on F1’s finances.

“The teams survive on their funding from races, so this will have an impact on the team’s budgets for the future,” Brawn said.

“It will have an impact on our economics as a company. Each race you lose, then it has an impact.

“There’s a fair resilience in Formula 1 and we’ve got plans to rebuild the season, trying to accommodate as many of the lost races.

“People have to show some tolerance now in terms of how we build the season for the rest of the year.”