My time in Melbourne and therefore Australia is coming to an end; I have just 2 days left before heading to New Zealand. Perhaps now is the perfect time to take stock on what a brilliant 4 days at Albert Park I had.
First and foremost, Sundays result. Well done to Jenson Button who took his 3rd victory in 4 years around the circuit. That’s a hell of an achievement and he had every right to be more than over the moon when he celebrated yesterday evening. You don’t need to be a genius to realise it’s the perfect start to the season.
On the other hand, Lewis Hamilton was visibly disappointed with his afternoons work. Not only did he drop a place to his team mate at the start of the race, but he was out of luck too when Vettel jumped him during the safety car period towards the end of the race. But look, that’s how racing goes some times. He’ll have been the beneficiary in similar circumstances before so sometimes you just have to take the pain and try and take the positives from the weekend. And positive there are. The McLaren MP4-27 is looking pretty good from the get-go so the McLaren duo should be competitive in Malaysia and beyond.
The organisation of the Australian Grand Prix is just stunning. There is always something going on to entertain the vast crowds from Thursday morning until Sunday night. That’s 4 days if you hadn’t noticed, whereas most GP’s are held over a 3 day period. As a regular attendee of the British Grand Prix (11 years and counting), we often sigh at the lengthy gaps between track sessions and are left slightly disappointed that the first race of the weekend isn’t until mid afternoon on the Saturday. In Melbourne the first race of the weekend was 11am on Friday – the same time most GP weekends actually get going! Even when there isn’t a track session at Albert Park there’s a show, demonstration or some sort of event to check out. Full marks for the scheduling! You certainly get value for money at this one.
On the issue of HRT not racing for a second year in a row, my stance is pretty firm. The 107% rule is there for a reason. It’s to stop teams turning up with a package that isn’t quick enough to compete against the rest of the pack. You can’t have two tiers or classes of racers on the circuit at the same time – not when the speeds are as high as modern F1 reach. I said it on twitter and I’ll say it again, this is Formula One, not Formula Nearly, not Formula Close – 107% is the cut off and that’s that. The counter argument seems to revolve around the costs incurred by HRT to get their cars and personnel over to Australia and not allowing them to race is somewhat of a commercial disaster for such small teams. But look at Marussia F1. They turned up with a brand new car that hadn’t turned a wheel before the weekend – and they managed to get it on the pace in time for Q1. That’s the sort of effort you need in F1 as a bare minimum. HRT will be back within 5 days in Malaysia where no doubt they’ll have another go and quite possibly make it this time. Problem solved!
It’s sad that the Australian Grand Prix as we know it at Albert Park has a far from certain future. The race is safe until 2015 – but beyond that the outlook is pretty bleak. The Australian government is under pressure to make savings and the huge costs for hosting a Formula 1 race are a real sticking point. Couple this with the fact Bernie Ecclestone wants Albert Park to be a night race like we see in Singapore and there’s real cause for concern as to whether there’ll be a race in Melbourne beyond 2015 at all. Formula 1 in Australia could be finished...
Will I return in time before the current agreement runs out? I’m not so sure. I’ve said to myself to keep visiting new Grand Prix around the world before returning to the ones I’ve already attended (except our home race at Silverstone of course, that’s a banker!) So this could well be the last time I experience this Grand Prix. But what a Grand Prix it is...
This page was published by James Wilson