OXFORDSHIRE’S Formula 1 teams have backed the decision to cancel the first race of the season in Australia.

The race was called off yesterday, two hours before first practice was due to begin in Melbourne, after a member of the McLaren team tested positive for coronavirus.

It saw McLaren pull out of the race on Thursday night, before the ten teams on the grid agreed to the cancellation.

F1 bosses yesterday postponed next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix and the race in Vietnam on April 5, before admitting they do not expect the season to start until the end of May.

Yesterday’s decision deprived Australian Daniel Ricciardo of competing at his home Grand Prix, but the driver for

Enstone-based Renault acknowledged it was the correct call.

He tweeted: “I’m devastated I can’t compete at my home GP here in Melbourne and get the season started.

“Ultimately though the right decision has been made and I think everyone can understand this is something we’ve never seen before.”

A Renault statement added: “We are disappointed not to be able to race in front of the passionate Australian fans who have shown such support of our team and Daniel.

“However, the health and safety of our team members and the wider F1 community is of paramount importance.”

Eight team members were tested for coronavirus in Australia, including two people from Banbury-based Haas.

They were screened at the Albert Park circuit on Wednesday, before self-isolating in their hotel rooms.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean tweeted: “Feels like a big thing for us as we prepared very hard for it, but actually a very small thing compared to the challenge the world is facing right now.”

Grove-based Williams said they ‘fully support’ the race’s cancellation and the safety of team members and fans is ‘absolutely the priority’.

The Chinese Grand Prix, scheduled for April 19, had already been cancelled.