It’s that time of the year again at Albert Park, where local councils allow super-expensive toys to temporarily exceed well beyond the usual volume limits in the area. The dying F1 Melbourne Grand Prix was probably more famous in the press for making enormous financial losses for the Melbourne government than the record-breaking lap times that Sebastian Vettel managed to pull off that weekend. Nevertheless, this event has become so much of a ‘tradition’ for me, that I just couldn’t let it pass without showing up at least for a day. Besides, this must be one of the only events of the year, where men have to line up for the toilet. Not sure why more women are not turning up for this event? (Sorry for the bad sarcasm).
Anyway.. 2 years ago, I came to this Grand Prix because I wanted to see cars which I barely get to glimpse for any more than a few seconds at a time. After all, how much do you think you can see when a car flies past you at 300km/h?? Not a lot, obviously. 2 years later, I came here because I just wanted to hear the darn thing. Oh.. and this year.. things are a little more ‘hands on’…
No.. I didn’t score a job at McLaren Mercedes. I was just participating in their wheel change competition. You know what? The pros really do make wheel changing look so easy on TV. The top time of the day was about 4.52 seconds. An average mortal like myself and Rimen? We did it in 17.31 seconds.. basically over 4 times slower. There goes my career in F1 as a mechanic at least.
And then, there was the ‘ultimate’ driving simulator, which I enjoyed the most. To some, it’s just a steering wheel with a massive vibrating chair. It reminded me of my early uni years, where I spent hours in front of a PC playing Grand Prix 2, except everything is so much more realistic these days. The chair shakes as you go over the gravel, every little turn jolts your body around, and they certainly did not forget the ear-shattering roar of an F1 engine!! All this for just $20, which gets you about 5 laps. Not sure if that’s good value, but it was certainly fun for me!
And oh.. of course, there was the qualifying session itself. Regulars know that the key thing for a good view is ‘location, location, location’! Especially for those that can’t afford grandstand tickets, or just plain cheapskates, have been camping on this little hill where you can at least see a full 5 seconds of the cars flying through here. I can assure you getting a spot here isn’t easy!
I was lucky enough to get a spot good enough to at least take some decent photos. Sure enough, the cars start streaming out to do their stuff… starting with Ferrari, which the crowd cheered for, doesn’t matter how bad they do..
Then.. there are some pretty big expectations this yearfor Mr. 5-times ex-world champion, ex-Ferrari driver, the one and only Michael Shumacher. There’s nothing ‘red’ left about him or his car, except his helmet…
And of course.. last year’s champion Sebastian Vettel.. who given his pace all weekend will probably dominate this year’s championship.
Yes.. he was on pole position, and went on to win the race the next day. All that at age 23! Really does make me feel old, to say the least. For the first time, I actually thought this little 1965 old F1 racer looked pretty cool!
Hmm.. sign of aging? or just a change of ‘taste’? Let’s not get into that…
All in all, it was a day to burn $85 to get my ear drums shattered and body covered in dust. Not everyone’s idea to spend a weekend, but it was all worth it for me. No doubt I will come back next year for more!