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Some people head to Melbourne for the food, wine and culture, others head for the smell of petrol, burning rubber and fast cars.
Get ready for the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix.
1. The facts
Held in Melbourne since 1985, the Australian Grand Prix wiggles its 16-corner track around Albert Park, a circuit which encircles the stunning Albert Park Lake. Drivers however, are none the wiser, at 247.5 km/h and with the necessary concrete barricades in place, they’re not stopping for views!
Approximately 5,300 kilometres in length, racers are required to navigate 58 mind-blowing laps, at speeds that’ll make your brow sweat. The fastest lap time as yet was claimed by 4-time winner, Michael Schumacher, in 2004. He tore up the tarmac – and one complete lap – in 24.125 seconds. Compare that to last year’s fastest time; 1 minute (!) and 32 seconds and you can appreciate what incredible skill Schumacher brought to the track. Granted, the cars have changed but it’s fair to say Ferrari + Schumacher made for one almighty winning combo.
Last year, current champion, Lewis Hamilton, wowed a combined 3-day audience of 300,000 attendees and took home the top trophy. He’ll return next year, between 31st March and 3rd April, to challenge a new batch of Grand Prix rivals.
2. The races
The Australian Grand Prix now runs to a twilight schedule – primarily to accommodate a large European audience – with engines revving from 3pm.
Practice sessions run for the duration of day one and two, with qualifiers at the end of the second day and a penultimate Grand Prix final during the afternoon of day three. In between the Grand Prix races there are V8 Supercars, classic cars and a celebrity challenge race which pits a variety of famous faces against one another – in matching Mazdas no less.
3. The facilities
Food and drink is readily available, but as with all big events, relatively expensive and mostly average. But you can enjoy all of Melbourne’s real culinary treats either side of your racing day. Inside the park you’ll find all the likely suspects such as hamburgers, pizzas and chips, ranging between AUD $10 -$15.
Alcohol is everywhere with a can of beer costing approximately AUD $8 - and if you’re on the soft stuff, non-alcoholic options average around AUD $6. Free water stations litter the vicinity so just remember to take a water bottle.
And on that note, you might require a toilet! No problem. Although a temporary arena, the Grand Prix venue at Albert Park is always well facilitated with numerous permanent and non-permanent public rest rooms. Hurrah! Time for another beer then.
4. The zones
For entertainment around the clock, there are a variety of activity ‘zones’ set up to keep attendees energised and refreshed. Commonly there will be allocated zones for merchandise and publicity, as well as other extreme sports such as motocross and BMX, not forgetting the aerial displays and a dedicated autograph zone; always a busy one, but you never know, hand Button your pen and he might just scribble his name!