I often get asked why travel all the way to Australia for a Grand Prix you can watch on TV at home...
The thing with the Australian Grand Prix is its very different to other races, it has a very unique atmosphere and it’s more like a festival than an actual race. This is probably why this is my second trip to Albert Park. With the race being hosted right in the City of Melbourne, it presents an opportunity to see what Melbourne as a city has to offer over the weekend outside of the F1. It’s these reasons that make this worth travelling all the way from the UK for this race.
Arriving at the track via a regular and fast free tram service to the entry gates, two things strike you immediately. The first is the friendliness and pride the local fans have for this race and the second is the vastness of the event itself - seeing shots of the track on TV do not do it justice of how long this circuit really is.
Having Four Day GP Advantage tickets allows you access to one of the Pit Walks on the Thursday, with a chance to get up close to see what is going on in the team’s garages. Naturally we made a bee-line for McLaren to try and get a glimpse of the action.
While watching the team set up the car, we bumped into Team McLaren’s most famous Aussie Fan - West. If you haven't heard of West then you need to get on Twitter @jacqui_and_west. Helped by Jacqui, West was tweeting about the race and giving daily updates and some great photos of the build up to race day.
Team McLaren Fan Blog: West (and Jacqui) at the Australian GP
It’s easy to see why this is a well attended event, with appearances from skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, support races from the V8 Supercars and my own favourite the speed comparison where a road car, a V8 car and a Formula 1 car race each other to the finish line after staggered starts.
Over the weekend we used Twitter (both personal and @TeamMcLaren) to meet other McLaren fans at the race but, that said, we found we would randomly bump into people and start chatting. One thing I did notice was that there were plenty of Danish McLaren fans that had made their way here and were more than happy to chat about racing and how good Kevin was going to be this weekend!
Onto race day and, after a slightly damp qualifying session the day before, the anticipation for the race was growing. We had great seats just past the last corner at the DRS line which offered a great view to cheer on the team.
After a bit of a false start the race was on and, while the action was taking place on other parts of the track, we never missed a thing on the big screen. With some great on track action and a great strategy by the McLaren team we soon had 2 drivers challenging for podium position. I can’t tell you what a good feeling that is!
With the race over we were allowed onto the track and ran as fast as we could to catch a glimpse of Kevin on the podium - just catching him getting presented with the champagne. Once the ceremony was completed we wandered up to the team garage to see them tucking into well deserved ice creams. Good job!
As the end of the day approached we took opportunities to get some photos on the grid and on track. A beer to celebrate was in order and we tagged along with a couple of McLaren fans @ajdinan we had met earlier in the race weekend and discussed the day’s events over a cold one.
While you see more of the race on TV, you see more of the event at the track. You can’t beat it for atmosphere. That being said, I will remember this one more for meeting some great McLaren fans and of course West, but also as friendliest Grand Prix I have been too.