The best place to view any Formula One race in my opinion is watching it on TV in your living room. This is exactly what I did between the late 1980’s and early 2000’s when the idea of actually going to a race never even entered my head. In 2001 I had a good chance to go to the Australian Grand Prix but instead chose to stay and work on the farm I was on in the outback. I had slight regrets about that but seven years ago, I finally got round to watching a live race (as well as qualifying) and enjoyed it too. At the end of that 2012 post I said that I hoped to one day be present at another race on the F1 calendar.
That kind of came true a couple of weeks ago when I was again in attendance at Albert Park in Melbourne though in hindsight I think my wish was probably to go to another race somewhere around the world.
Before arriving in Australia the previous day I had expected to watch this race by myself so was delighted when my sister said that I would be ably accompanied by my nephew. Entrance was $99 (£54/$70 USD) for me which is the same price as I paid seven years ago. It may be about double what I usually pay for a football match but by global Grand Prix standards it is a bargain and great that you can just turn up on the day and pay on the gate. More importantly, under 14’s get free entry (if accompanied by a paying adult) so all-in-all it was a very reasonable weekend of live sport money-wise following our trip to the Marvel Stadium for some live A-League action the night before.
The fighter planes were rather noisily flying close overhead when we finally arrived at one of the entrance gates. Unfortunately the wifi was down at that particular time (supposedly caused by those pesky planes) and so the scanning of the ticket barcodes wouldn’t work meaning that those of us queueing up had to wait for about twenty minutes before we could finally get in. First world problems eh!
Now my 11 year old accomplice knows a lot more about the current F1 situation than me regarding rules, drivers, teams and so on but I had to laugh when he said “Who’s Senna?” in response to me pointing out a mural of the legendary Brazilian driver.
Sadly we entered one of the gates which was the furthest from where I wanted to be. With time quickly running out, and my nephew starting to tire of walking, we decided to just watch the start of the race away from the track courtesy of two giant TV screens in the Heineken Village which was located in the middle of the circuit somewhere.
After about 15 laps we thought we should leave the comfort of that area to actually see and hear the cars on the track. The latter was of course no problem but unlike seven years ago, we didn’t need any ear plugs as the sound of the cars was reduced in volume a few years ago. As for actually seeing the cars whizz by, well that was a bit more difficult. Although we could see the action on the big screen across the track at turn two we couldn’t quite make out the all-important positions of the drivers which are displayed down the left side of the screen. Still, seeing BOT and HAM together did provide something of a laugh as when put together they can sound a bit like bottom! Yes, that’s as sophisticated as the humour got!
I could sense he wanted to return to the Heineken area so we left the hill to get a pizza and then see the finale from the relatively comfortable alcohol-sponsored field. We shared a decent-sized pizza costing $10 which I thought was quite reasonable value for such food at a sporting event, and it was probably the highlight of his day as pizza is his favourite food.
In 2012 I went on to the track at the conclusion of the race (won by Britain’s Jenson Button) but this time we just headed for the exit when Valtteri Bottas took the chequered flag as was pretty much expected once he’d go away well on the starting grid. His teammate Lewis Hamilton had to settle for second place as indeed he did seven years ago. The start was probably the most exciting part of the race too due to Daniel Ricciardo having a shocker for his new Renault team in his home grand prix. The six minutes highlight reel below shows all that you need to see.
There is far more going on each day than just the F1 practice, qualifying, race or whatever. One can see quite a few other car races as well as parades, vintage vehicle displays, merchandise stores, food and drink outlets, dedicated zones and other exhibits. The Batmobile from Tim Burton’s ‘Batman‘ (1989) was one of a couple of film-related things we came across on the way out.
Close to that was the kids corner featuring a Jurassic World area full of large animatronic dinosaurs which was mildly interesting and goes to show that there really is far more to Grand Prix events than just 20 cars speeding round the circuit.
After just 36 hours of being back in Australia I had already witnessed a double-dose of live sporting events with my nephew. I really enjoyed spending the day with him but I feel that attending such a grand prix really is all about bragging rights and just being able to say you were there. I didn’t really feel that I had witnessed a sporting occasion compared with the experience of attending football, tennis or rugby matches where you can see everything. This was more about the day out and the racing was almost a background event for our day in St Kilda. It’s amazing how many people come to such events and just treat it like a day in the park without seeing a single second of the rubber being burned around them!
Click here to read ‘Australia 2012 Pt II: F1 Australian Grand Prix’
Click here to read ‘Australia 2019 Pt III: It’s The Church Where Scott & Charlene Got Married In Neighbours!’