The 2012 Formula One season got under way at Albert Park in Melbourne a couple of weekends ago and I just happened to be in town to see my first live race. I’ve often had slight regrets that I didn’t attend the 2001 Grand Prix whilst I was so close to its location in St Kilda.
From booking my trip to Australia I always had in mind the idea to go to the race on the Sunday but I’d never given a thought to attending the qualifying session the day before that too! However, my brother-in-law Carl thought it would be nice to take my nephew Eifion to the day of events and so my sister Ruth and I joined them for a family day out whilst my mum and dad got to spend a day with Anesta.
The great thing about the Australian Grand Prix is that you can just turn up and pay admission on the day without any problem due to the sheer size of the place. After there had been lots of rain on the Friday practice we really were so lucky to have such a beautiful weekend of sunshine.
Apart from a brief demonstration at Tokyo Motor Sport 2008 I had never heard the unbelievable noise which comes from the F1 cars until one went under the footbridge we were crossing. Almost deafening and we were so lucky to be given some free earplugs from a kind spectator which were essential for making my weekend more comfortable and enjoyable.
Prior to the Saturday session I had no idea that there were a whole days events taking place with the qualifying part rounding off the day early evening. Its kind of like a school fete on a far grander scale with car exhibits, air displays, food and merchandise stalls and lots of other racing events. For young Eifion the highlight was the ‘Crusty Demons’ motorcycle daredevil stunts which it has to be said was amazing given the stunning setting, glorious sunshine, pumping sound system beats, scantily-clad dancing girls and the aerial stunts themselves.
However, for Ruth, Carl and I that qualifying day will not be remembered for the two British McLaren drivers finishing on the front row of the grid but for a certain four and a half year old boy eating throughout the day including all of our snacks on the train journey into the city, fish and chips, two ice-creams, more chips and a huge burger to top the day off. Incredible!
The following day I returned to Albert Park for the main race which was another fine day capped off with a win for Jenson Button with his fellow Brit team-mate Hamilton also appearing on the podium not that he was happy with it! I had a choice of where to watch the race from and settled for an area at turn 2 where there was a big screen to keep up to date with the race whilst offering a reasonable view of the cars motoring by. Of course if you want to really actually see the race then you watch it at home on TV!
Shortly after Button took the chequered flag the crowd were allowed on the track but sadly I didn’t quite make it down the starting grid to witness the British National Anthem being played or the champagne spraying ceremony which followed it.
I’ve been an F1 fan since the mid 1980’s following the fortunes of Nigel Mansell and then Damon Hill and though my enthusiasm for the sport has waned a bit in recent times I have got back into it a lot more in the last couple of years and this weekend in Melbourne for the season opener was a great experience for me. I hope to one day attend another race on the F1 calendar.