Lewis Hamilton hits out at decision not to postpone Australian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has taken aim at Formula One's bosses for staging the Australian Grand Prix, describing their decision as "shocking".

At least five members of the sport's travelling circus are in quarantine in Melbourne after showing symptoms associated with coronavirus.

A host of sporting fixtures have been cancelled across the globe in response to the outbreak of the deadly disease, with the NBA the latest league to announce it had suspended the season with immediate effect.

"I am really very, very surprised that we are here," said an animated Hamilton.

"For me, it is shocking that we are all sitting in this room.

"There are so many fans here already today. It seems like the rest of the world is reacting, probably a little bit late, but we have seen (US president) Donald Trump shut down the borders from Europe to the US, the NBA has been suspended, yet Formula One continues to go on."

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File photo dated 03-11-2019 of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates victory in the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas.
Lewis Hamilton posing for a picture with his second-placed 2019 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.
File photo dated 03-11-2019 of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning his sixth world championship after the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas.
File photo dated 13-07-2019 of Mercedes' driver Lewis Hamilton in action during third practice for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Towcester.
File photo dated 14-07-2019 of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates with fans after winning the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Towcester.
Lewis Hamilton attending the Fashion Awards 2019 at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London. Picture credit should read: Doug Peters/EMPICS
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team�s British driver Lewis Hamilton competes during the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix race at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. (Photo by Jure Makovec / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team�s British driver Lewis Hamilton arrives for the drivers parade ahead of the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix race at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. (Photo by Jure Makovec / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Winner Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team�s British driver Lewis Hamilton (2nd R), second placed Red Bull Racing�s Dutch driver Max Verstappen (2nd L) and third placed Scuderia Ferrari�s Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc (R) celebrate after the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. (Photo by Jure Makovec / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Lewis Hamilton (GBR, Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport) during the Grand Prix Formula One Abu Dhabi 2019 in United Arab Emirates. 29 Nov 2019. (Photo by pressinphoto/Sipa USA)
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 during the Grand Prix Formula One Abu Dhabi 2019 in United Arab Emirates. 29 Nov 2019. (Photo by pressinphoto/Sipa USA)
Mercedes team photo with Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 and Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 during the Grand Prix Formula One Abu Dhabi 2019 in United Arab Emirates. 29 Nov 2019. (Photo by pressinphoto/Sipa USA)
Lewis Hamilton (GBR, Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport) during the Grand Prix Formula One Abu Dhabi 2019 in United Arab Emirates. 29 Nov 2019. (Photo by pressinphoto/Sipa USA)
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More than 300,000 fans are expected through the gates of the Albert Park venue for this weekend's race.

Asked why he thought the sport's chiefs and its governing body, the FIA, have pushed ahead with the opening round in Melbourne, Hamilton replied: "Cash is king.

"I don't feel like I should shy away from my opinion.

"The fact is we are here and I just urge everyone to be as careful as you can be in terms of touching doors and surfaces.

"For the fans, I hope they take precautions, too. I was walking through the paddock and saw everything going ahead as normal as if it is a normal day, but I don't think it really is.

"I hope the fans stay safe and we go through this weekend and we don't see any fatalities or anything come out in the future."

American outfit Haas have confirmed an additional two staff members have been tested for coronavirus, taking their tally to four. A member of McLaren's team was tested on Wednesday. Both McLaren and Haas are awaiting the outcome of the results, and have been told it could take up to 72 hours.

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