A new Formula 1® season brings much excitement and anticipation, as the slate is wiped clean from the previous year and it’s all to play for.
Ten teams, twenty drivers, hundreds of team personnel and some of the cleverest minds in motorsport all converge on Melbourne for the opening round… and what a round it was.
F1® Experiences was right in the heart of the action, with guests witnessing some great on-track action over the weekend – and not just from the F1 stars. A full race program that included the Porsche Supercup, GT Racing and the iconic Australian Supercars meant there was always something to get the pulse racing and our great vantage points from around the circuit meant for some very happy race fans.
Our program started on Thursday night, with guests climbing aboard the F1® Experiences Bus to get a guided tour of the circuit. Our F1 Experiences Ambassadors in the form of Sam Power, James Towers and Matt Brabham took guests on a race drivers tour, explaining the circuit and telling the story of how Albert Park has come to be respected – and in some cases feared – by F1 teams globally. This tour culminated in the opportunity to have a photo on the grid with the 1996 Winning Drivers Trophy, originally held aloft by Damon Hill.
After a brilliant day of track action on Friday, which included F1 cars running in anger for the first time in 2018, F1 Experiences guests were treated to our Insider Access to the F1 Paddock, with the opportunity to have their photograph taken on the podium. Other stops on the tour included being shown around the brand-new Safety Car for 2018 by Bernd Mayländer, having the opportunity to visit – and sit in – the two-seater F1 car and a great chat with the Haas F1 Team about what goes into bringing F1 to Australia.
Guests then made their way upstairs into the Paddock Club, where they were able to partake in some delicious local delicacies and fine wines as Force India driver Esteban Ocon visited us for a chat and autograph session. Esteban was all smiles talking about his route into F1, his hopes for the season ahead – and revealed that he hadn’t yet tried the Aussie classic of Vegemite, something we need to change!
A Champions Weekend
There was plenty of action for guests visiting our Champions Club over the weekend, with a great vantage point located at Turn 1. Whilst bad luck for Valtteri Bottas, our guests were in prime viewing position as the Finn ran wide during qualifying, losing control of the W09 and wiping out his car. There were plenty of other thrills and spills at T1 over the weekend, especially as the heavens opened up on Saturday and the traditional changeable Melbourne weather made life very interesting for on-track competitors.
The rain didn’t damped the spirits of Mark Webber who visited us on Saturday morning, the Australian F1® legend – who was the previous night inducted in to the CAMS Australian Hall of Fame – spent some time chatting with guests covering all topics from his career highlights and lowlights, his thoughts on the newly-introduced halo, where F1 is headed under Liberty Media and even took questions from our guests. We’re hoping to invite Mark back to future races this year.
Sean Bratches, the Managing Director of F1, joined us in the afternoon for a discussion on how the business of the sport works, revealing a few scoops and insights that had guests reveling in every word. It’s fair to say that everyone who heard Sean speak know that F1 is in great hands – and the future for our sport looks very exciting indeed.
Lights Out in Melbourne
On Sunday, our guests were treated to some thrilling track action that saw Jamie Whincup win the Melbourne 400, the first time that the Australian Supercars race has been contested for points. Jamie joined us in the Champions Club later in the day to discuss his career to date, one which has taken in some seven Australian Supercar titles and an opportunity to drive an F1® car around Albert Park. Our international guests were thrilled to see one of the Supercar gladiators up close and Jamie had a great time with us in the suite.
As the lights went out in Melbourne, our carefully chosen vantage points offered fantastic views of all the race action, from the heartbreak of the Haas pit stop errors, to Pierre Gasly’s engine expiring, to that stunning undercut by Ferrari to take the lead from Hamilton.
As the chequered flag fluttered, Albert Park erupted as Vettel took the victory for Ferrari, with Hamilton second and Kimi Räikkönen third. A standing ovation saw them back around to the podium, where some of our very lucky guests had the opportunity to stand under the podium as the champagne sprayed.
It was a fantastic weekend to start 2018 with F1 Experiences. Our next stop is Bahrain, where once again we look forward to bringing fans closer to Formula 1®. Join us by securing an Official Ticket Package for Sakhir.