A far cry from my normal backpacker budget days out, on the 14th – 17th March I took to the seats in a Formula One grandstand to get my first taste of what a live F1 race weekend is like. Despite missing two days because of work commitments I still think it was money well spent. $320 for a seat for four days in the Senna grandstand is a lot of money and something you wouldn’t bother with if you didn’t like motorsport, but having been brought up in a family who love their motorsport it was something that not only interested me but had managed to make its way on to my bucket list. But why is that? And what is so special about this race compared to any other race of the season?
Melbourne is an iconic race in the F1 calendar as it marks the start of the season for another year and for anyone in Europe it also means a ridiculously early start just to catch the action. As a travel lover, every year I watch this race and lust over how beautiful the city looks with its flaming pillars on the river and the oh-so-famous Great Ocean Road which appears in every build up. This race is not only iconic to F1 fans but also to Melbournians as for one week of the year Albert Park gets taken over by F1 and turned into a race track for everyone to feast their eyes upon.
The atmosphere across Melbourne is exciting and full of anticipation for the result at the end of Sunday. Yet again the city is buzzing with excitement for the next event – it seems like there is always an event going on here. The actual park is more like a festival ground than just a race track with demonstrations, food stalls, merchandise stalls and plenty of hands on/off areas. The atmosphere only increases as the weekend passes by until Sunday when it hits its peak during the F1 race. There are not only F1 fans standing and cheering in the crowd; it is made up of a very diverse group of people on the Sunday – many getting to experience the F1 cars for their first time. However it isn’t just F1 cars you get to see over the weekend, with V8 supercars, air shows and much, much more on display.
For the two hours of the race you are over whelmed by the noise. I had sat through a free practice and qualifying but none of that compares to the constant sound of the cars during there 50 odd laps of Albert Park – it really is that loud that the cars can be heard back in the CBD. It is fast paced action and hard to keep up with unless you really are interested. Still, I don’t think being there is just about knowing who is first in the race. It’s about the sound that pounds through your ears and won’t go away for hours afterwards, it’s the shivers you get as the car speeds past you before you have even registered what colour it is, but most of all its seeing something you have seen on TV for years right in front of your eyes.
As far as watching a Grand Prix live goes I’m glad Melbourne was my first experience. It’s a lot of fun having the venue right in the centre of the city, creating such a buzz for the spectators. You feel like everyone really gets in to the spirit of the race, unlike in other countries where the race isn’t accessible from the city and therefore doesn’t appeal to the general public. I think the race is a great event for Melbourne to have and that shows because this year Albert Park celebrated its 60th year of racing on its track.