G’day from Albert Park! That is such a cliché opener to an Australian themed blog post but I’m honestly loving my time here Melbourne – and GP atmosphere is about to hit fever pitch!
I had a lie in on Wednesday but was awoken to the sound of a F1 car lapping the Albert Park circuit, just a couple of km/miles down the road. How could this be happening? Which F1 car was it? I was baffled all day, but on Thursday I figured out exactly what was going on...
I spent Thursday afternoon at the circuit to see what was going on, and there was plenty of action to sink my teeth into. The support race and special events line up is second to none at the Aussie GP. Something is always happening to keep you entertained. The awesome V8 championship has 3 non-championship rounds, as well as racing from Formula Ford, Porsche Super Cup, Shannons Classic Touring Cars and a few others I can’t quite remember the name of! But there is also something called the Ultimate Speed Comparison – and here lies the answer to the mysterious F1 engine sounds from yesterday.
The Ultimate Speed Comparison is an up to date reminder of just how fast a F1 car is, compared to other high performance vehicles. Stick 3 cars on the grid; give the slowest on paper a head start, followed by the second slowest, then the F1 car sets off almost eternally later. The premise is that all cars cross the line near enough at the same time. This year they are using a road going Mercedes Benz AMG, a Holden V8 – and Gary Paffett is driving last year’s McLaren MP4-26. This was the car hacking round on Wednesday – apparently the support team requesting extra mileage to make sure they were confident of its reliability all weekend for the spectacle. Similar speed comparisons have been done in the past however. David Coulthard did one at Silverstone over 10 years ago, as did Top Gear using a Jordan back in the day. This weekend in Melbourne is a modern reminder just how fast F1 cars really go...
All F1 drivers were available for autograph signing at various times today but the queues were massive whenever I walked past them. I spoke to an Irish chap who said he queued for 3 ½ hours for the McLaren duo. 3 ½ hours! That is crazy in my eyes – for an autograph. I asked him what he’d said to them – praying he’d got some good banter or sparked a conversation. He said he wished Jenson good luck and he’d replied by asking where he was from. He seemed satisfied with this exchange – but was less than impressed with Lewis Hamilton. He said that Lewis was in an interview at the time so literally just signed the hat then was moved on. It’s a tough situation – I feel for F1 drivers who have to sit for hours and hours signing autographs over and over again – perhaps having the same exchanges with fans continuously – perhaps that gets tedious after while? But equally I feel for the fan that waits for 3 ½ hours just for a quick moment with a GP driver and gets sod all. I just don’t know where my opinion lies on it. What I do know is that I’m not prepared to spend that much time queuing to find out! I don’t like the thought of those falsely created meet and greet situations where the pressure to say the right thing and do it in your allotted 15 seconds is way too high. Bump into a F1 driver on the street or in a restaurant any day of the week..
I was excited to check out the brand new 2012 McLaren merchandise as soon as I entered the circuit today. I’ve seen it online and like the fact the t-shirts have gone back to white again. Perfect when the weather is baking hot and sunny all day at the GP! The t-shirt was $80 though – and when you convert that back to the British pound, it almost equates to double the UK price – game over. I like it, but not that much. Purchase of the shirt can wait until the British GP or even the Le Mans 24 hours in June! In terms of the McLaren caps – let’s be honest, they are Vodafone hats! From the front there is no evidence of McLaren branding, and when you compare that to Red Bull and Ferrari caps, it’s pretty disappointing.
If you haven’t checked out my Thursday photos – why not? Check them out on facebook here.
More updates to follow this weekend – I cannot wait to see the cars tomorrow!
This page was published by James Wilson