Those of you that follow Formula 1 will know that the Australian Grand Prix is the first race of the year, usually taking place on the Melbourne Grand Prix circuit, in Albert Park, Melbourne. It’s the first race of the year, and you can usually tell when it’s coming up because Albert Park is suddenly surrounded by barriers. During my time in Melbourne I decided to attend the race, and find out what the craic was. Now, with Sebastian Vettel having won the 2018 race, I’ll divulge what I learnt from my attendance, so you know what to expect if you decide to go to the 2019 Australian Grand Prix.
One of the great things about the Melbourne GP is that it’s at Albert Park, right in the middle of Melbourne, and that means it’s easy to get to, and there are tons of places nearby to get food or drink after the event, if you don’t want to get any during it. That’s to add to the fact that it’s still warm in Melbourne in March, and that you get the city as a backdrop to the races. There are a few other special bits that happen during the day, but I’ll tell you more about those later.
It’s not just about the F1 race
When you go in you soon realise why you’re given ear plugs. It can get loud. Very loud. But that isn’t the point here.
Just inside the entrance were a host of tents and stalls, including some special showings from the characters of Cars. Not quite what you would expect, but a welcome sight, especially for the families attending with their children.
There are also plenty of cars on show. From old school vintage formula 1 cars and classic cars, to modern sports cars, and other vehicles that people have kept in top condition to show off at the GP.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll also notice the insane amount of people driving around on golf carts. No idea why they couldn’t just walk, but I guess it would be slightly quicker. As an added bit of fun, I spent far too much time trying to take pictures of all of the different carts I saw on the day. I now have a huge album of pictures that have no explanation, good effort!
As an example, in this one I didn’t realise until processing that I’d accidentally caught a second one in the background.
Or this one, where I’m pretty sure they were lining up to start their own race. Never managed to find out who won it though. I think the additional weight of a passenger might have tipped the odds out of favour for the guys in pole position. Who knows?
There are other races going on
Before the Formula 1 race takes place there are other races on the track, including one for touring cars. I’ll admit I didn’t know that this was the case, and I also didn’t really have any knowledge or interest in it, but it’s still entertaining to pay attention to while you’re there. The other cars are still quick, and loud, even if they’re not quite at the same level as F1.
That also means it can be difficult to take pictures of them. My camera at least, had a nightmare trying to focus on the cars. It does’nt help that the track is fenced off behind the metal grid and my camera loves to focus on metal grids. Remember, I was a complete novice at this point and had no chance manually focusing it! It’s worth considering that although the fencing can be a royal pain in the arse, it’s there for a reason and does a pretty good job at keeping spectators safe, especially if there’s debris from the race flying around.
These races kind of interrupted my exploring and taking pictures of all the fancy cars and the classic sports cars, including this beauty.
It’s time for refreshments
After spending a few hours walking around, watching races and taking pictures in the heat, it was time to go find a hard earned beer. Luckily, my pursuit of golf carts lead me to find the holy grail – a beer tent! Even better? A beer tent with no queue. I’m sure this was the luckiest day of my life. As always, I’ll take this chance to reiterate the fact that you should bring water and sunscreen. Beer is great, but it won’t keep you hydrated.
Now ready, with my beer in hand, I decided to try and find somewhere to settle down to watch the main race. That meant I headed over to one of the corners to get a decent vantage point, and made myself comfortable.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, there are a few other bits you get to experience when you’re at the F1. There are a few fly overs that take place throughout the day, including the famous Quantas jet. As always, here is my picture proof. One that I’m particularly happy with, despite the ‘artistic’ effect of the planes being nowhere near where I wanted them to be when I took the picture.
You should also take this as a note that Melbourne weeather is rather odd, and despite the cool, grey sky from earlier in the day, it can quickly brighten up or decide to piss it down. Make sure you’re prepared.
And then it was time for the race. As with most British F1 fans, I was firmly backing Lewis Hamilton for this race. I even kept my eyes peeling for the Petronas plastered across his Mercedes. Fortunately, that helped me to get a couple of pictures, once again contending with the metal mesh fencing. Just to note, it’s much more difficult taking a decent photo of an F1 car than any other vehicle I’ve tried to snap. Keep trying though!
The race was great, though unfortunately it wasn’t to be and Lewis ended up finishing 5th. Not that I’d let that dampen my day.
If you’re thinking about going to the Australian Grand Prix in 2019, then I would certainly recommend it. It’s up there with my favourite experiences from Australia, and although it’s a story less often told, that’s mostly because I don’t want to brag too hard about how great a time I had at the F1.