Lewis Hamilton questioned the decision to go ahead with the Australian Grand Prix amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying he was "very surprised".

The Mercedes star will be aiming to make a winning start to the Formula One season in Melbourne on Sunday.

But it comes despite more than 4,600 people dying and more than 126,000 contracting coronavirus, which has impacted countries and sports around the world.

Hamilton admitted he was shocked to see the F1 campaign beginning as planned, with the NBA the latest competition affected as it suspended its season on Wednesday.

"I am very, very surprised we are here," the Brit told a news conference on Thursday.

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"It is great we have races but for me it is shocking that we are all sitting in this room. It seems like the rest of the world is reacting, probably a bit late. The NBA has been suspended yet F1 continues to go on."

Reports suggest several F1 staff are awaiting the results of tests for coronavirus.

Hamilton, a six-time world champion, urged fans to remain cautious during the weekend.

"The fact is we are here and I just encourage everyone to be as careful as you can be in touching doors and surfaces and I hope everyone has hand sanitiser," he said.

''I really, really hope the fans take precautions. Walking through and seeing everything go ahead as normal, just like a normal day."