The first race of the season sees the team fly to the Southern Hemisphere for a street race on Aussie turf. Here's our guide to F1 in the land down under, courtesy of our well-travelled team.
Time zone: GMT +10
Population: 3.4 million
Melbourne is 10,507 miles from the McLaren Technology Centre.
No airlines fly direct to Australia. That complicates the journey, and particularly the shipment of last-minute parts. “You have to think about transit and which airlines are better with baggage,” says Clare Martin, Head Race & Test Co-Ordinator. “We don’t want anything to get lost, so we send two people specifically to travel with last minute items.”
Biggest travel headache?
Visas. All of the 125 people attending the race for McLaren-Honda need an Australian work visa.
Like coffee? The flat white was invented Down Under in the ’80s, although no-one is sure exactly where. Baristas in both Sydney and Melbourne have laid claim to it.
Dampers. The locals aren’t referring to a suspension component; chances are they’re talking about their soda bread.
When in Rome…
Visit the Melbourne Cricket Ground. With a capacity of more than 100,000 people, It’s the 10th biggest stadium in the world – larger than the Nou Camp and Wembley.
Melbourne has enjoyed its warmest March for 77 years, with temperatures more than four degrees above the daytime average of 24 degrees. The forecast is for a dry race weekend.
With both Fernando and Stoffel on location in Melbourne, we follow their activities as they acclimatise to the time zones, ward off jet lag and prepare themselves for the first race.
Obligatory trips to the gym for Fernando Alonso, followed by surf school on one of Melbourne's many stunning beaches.
Photo credit: @fernandoalo_oficial
Stoffel's pre-Australia regime involves training visits to the Victorian Institute of Sport and coastal bike rides.
Photo credit: @svandoorne