Ferrari team arrives in Melbourne after getting exemption to fly from Italy

Ferrari's Formula One team received a special exemption from the Italian government to travel to Melbourne from the coronavirus-struck Lombardy region.

Dozens of the team's crew have already arrived for this week's grand prix, with the team's top brass – including its principal and head engineers – departing from Milan on Monday morning.

About 150 Ferrari crew members will be at Albert Park, a reduced figure for a race meet with some non-essential staff remaining in Europe.

Ferrari's base – where most employees have been for the past week – is in Maranello, near the city of Modena, in northern Italy.

Australian Grand Prix chief executive Andrew Westacott said no team members had shown coronavirus-like symptoms at the border.

"They've had to ensure they comply with Italian travel requirements coming out of Italy, and they've got to comply with Border Force requirements coming into Australia," he said.

"It's a bit like a footy team – if someone has a bit of a bug at a footy club, guess what? You keep them away.

"They're a very professional team."

About 100 employees of Alpha Tauri – another Italian team – and Pirelli – an Italian tyre manufacturer – have also arrived in Melbourne from Italy.

The Bahrain Grand Prix, which begins on March 23, will be raced without spectators due to coronavirus concerns but Mr Westacott said organisers never considered doing the same here.

The grand prix boss said local health protocols differ around the world, and said the state government was responsible for whether mass gatherings should take place.

"What applies in Bahrain via the Crown Prince [Salman bin Hamad] is different to what applies in China and different to what applies in Melbourne," he said.

Ticket sales are higher than they were last year, which was a record year, he said.

Event organisers expect more than 80,000 spectators a day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. International ticket sales have been "very, very strong", according to Mr Westacott.

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