Thursday, 21 March 2019
On January 1st 2019 Linda and I became Australian residents. So I guess you could say the Melbourne Grand Prix is now our home race. Our rural homestead in Australia is situated in the Golden Plains of Victoria a 90 drive minute to the Albert Park circuit. For this year’s (2019) F1 weekend we decided to stay at our daughter Kathryn’s Melbourne home, which is just a 20 minute ride to the circuit entrance on one of Melbourne’s famous trams . Not having to worry about hosting a MotoExpress group meant we could do what our guests always do on a MotoExpress event which is relax and chill out. And that is exactly what we did throughout the weekend.
The weather throughout the Grand Prix weekend was perfect with temperatures hovering around the top 20’s. Albert Park and its circuit wrapped around a shimmering lake with the backdrop of the Melbourne skyline looked absolutely fantastic. It really is an iconic venue. A perfect setting and introduction to the 2019 F1 season.
Most overseas visitors to the Melbourne Grand Prix will be combining the race with a major Australian holiday which will likely involve an extended stay in and around Melbourne. The city is a famous sporting capital and when it comes to organising big sporting events it leads the world. Melbourne is the only city on the planet that has a grand prix and a tennis grand slam – it gives the city a special vibe like no other.
Getting to the circuit - from downtown Melbourne is easy. An army of volunteers and transport staff help guide you onto the free and frequent trams that operate from its two major rail stations of Flinders and Southern Cross.
Big Crowd and Price of Tickets - This year’s crowd was the biggest since 2005 with a stated attendance of 324,000 passing through the turnstiles over the four days. The reason for such a big crowd was largely down to pricing. We paid $150AUD (£80.00) each for our four day general admission tickets. Even if you are not that much into Motorsport, at $150 for a full weekend’s entertainment that included air shows, live bands, bars, food stalls, motorcycle stunt shows, meet the driver opportunities and driver interviews, plus numerous car shows. It’s outstanding value! In comparison Silverstone’s general admission ticket price is $366AUD (£197.00).
It’s a circuit made for walking - Once we passed through the turnstiles and picked up our circuit map and passed into the wide expanse of the circuit it became clear that we were going to walk miles upon miles. The park is huge and there was something to see everywhere. We walked about 5 miles each day along the well signposted paths and tracks.
The Heineken stage – a special mention goes to this entertainment area. Not quite Glastonbury but not far off. After qualifying on Saturday the majority of fans packed in for a great session of dancing and singing to music through the decades. As the sun set over Melbourne is was a brilliant sundowner experience.
The Party Continued – After the sunset on the Heineken Stage the crowds streamed out of the circuit gates onto the free trams taking them back into the city. But Melbournians know that the party can continue right outside the circuit gates and all you have to do is head for Gate 1 and into the Middle Park district of Melbourne. A huge Grand Prix party was taking place in The Middle Park Hotel and the streets around it. We enjoyed the party, maybe a little too much! Later in the evening we made our way to one of our favourite Italian restaurants accompanied with friends. Lucky we had a reservation it was packed.
Race Day – As the race was due to start late in the afternoon, we had lazy morning and enjoyed a late breakfast enjoyed on the sunny pavement of one of the many thousands of Melbourne cafes that the city is famous for. It appears that Sunday breakfast is the thing to do in Melbourne, given the queues and packed tables of the majority of cafes. Once inside the circuit we made our way trackside for the driver’s parade. Linda waved a number 44 Hamilton flag which Lewis acknowledge and blew her a kiss! Made her day. We watched the start of the race from the bleacher grandstands and then made our way to a food and drink area with loads of tables and a huge video screen with commentary. As the cars crossed the finish line a huge controlled track invasion gave the podium ceremony added excitement. We delayed our exit from the circuit with drinks at the circuit’s busy Albert Bar. Returning to Kathryn’s apartment was an easy journey on the trams. Race weekend completed. As they say in Australia ‘No Dramas Mate’.
The Final Verdict - We have been to many Grand Prix around the world and can safely recommend the Melbourne Grand Prix as one of the very best. If you think we should add the race to our Classic F1 Collection of events, do get in touch as let us know your thoughts.
Formula 1 and motorcycle grand prix comment and opinion by John Sinker.Return to blog index