Formula One to hold auction for Australian bushfire relief

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 15, 2019 Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas in action during practice REUTERS/Edgar Su

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One, whose 2020 season starts in Melbourne on March 15, has announced an auction to help areas most affected by the Australian bushfires.

The sport said in a statement that drivers, teams, partners and the governing body were contributing exclusive items and experiences to be auctioned from Wednesday and running through to Feb. 16.

Items included racing gloves and shoes used by Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo last season, his first with Renault, as well as race suits worn by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Alex Albon in 2019.

Teams have offered factory visits and meet-and-greets in the Melbourne paddock with drivers and team principals including six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto.

The FIA will provide a hot lap of the Albert Park circuit in the official safety car and a visit to race control during the grand prix while dinner with Formula One’s managing director for motorsport Ross Brawn is also up for bids.

“Australia has always been and will continue to be a very special place for Formula One,” Formula One said in a statement.

“The Australian people are an integral part of our tight-knit community and we send our condolences to everyone affected by the awful fires.”

Hamilton has already said he is donating U.S. $500,000 towards the rescue and care of wildlife caught in the fires.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar