Mercedes revealed as swing vote in decision to cancel Australian GP

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Mercedes has been revealed as the swing vote that triggered Formula 1's decision to cancel this weekend's Australian Grand Prix.

Late on Thursday, the situation in Melbourne took a sharp downward turn as fears of Coronavirus were realised when a McLaren team member tested positive for the Covid-19 illness.

That triggered the British team's immediate withdrawal, with 15 team members believed to be in quarantine for two weeks, including team boss Andreas Seidl to support them.

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What followed was a series of meetings overnight into Friday between race organisers, F1 bosses, teams, the FIA and local health authorities to decide on the next step.

It was determined a vote between the 10 teams would guide that because, under the regulations, a minimum of 12 cars are needed before cancellation becomes an option so if four more teams opted to join McLaren, that number wouldn't be met.

Autosport understands that initially, only three teams, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Renault, voted to cancel, leading to Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen's decision to leave Melbourne for Dubai.

But shortly after, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff finished a phone call with Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius, who informed the Austrian of the deteriorating situation in Europe though didn't directly tell Wolff to withdraw from the race.

Wolff, however, had a change of heart and informed F1 motorsport director Ross Brawn of his change in vote meaning now only 10 cars would be entering the race.

That led to the FIA informing Australian GP organisers, who had informed marshals and other staff that Friday's track action was taking place as planned, the F1 program would not happen.

Soon after, new guidance from local health authorities effectively put the last nail in the race's coffin, when it was decided no fans would be allowed inside Albert Park, leading to the announcement of the cancellation.

Quite the night.