Melbourne: Ferrari Formula One boss Mattia Binotto Tuesday urged his team to "put a smile on people's faces" at the Australian Grand Prix as Italy went into lockdown to combat coronavirus.
Most teams, including the Scuderia, are already in Melbourne or en route for the opening race of the year on Sunday, which organisers have said will go ahead as scheduled in front of packed grandstands despite the coronavirus outbreak.
In contrast, all sporting events in Italy have been suspended until April 3 as part of tough measures announced by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Monday to tackle the disease, and Bahrain, the season's second race, has barred fans.
Italy's clampdown came into force after the country reported 97 more deaths on Monday, taking its toll to 463. Australia has recorded three deaths with 101 confirmed cases as of Tuesday morning.
Ferarri said in a statement that despite it being "a very difficult time in Italy" the Australian Grand Prix would start as planned and the Scuderia "will be there".
Binotto added that he hoped the Maranello-based team, and the grand prix weekend as a whole, could help take people's minds off the crisis.
"At what is a difficult time for Italy and the world as a whole, as part of a global sport, it is our obligation to try and put a smile on people's faces as they prepare to watch the first race of the season with the same sense of anticipation as ourselves," he said....