For Pete's Sake

Taking my own name in vain.

It's Lights Out And Away We Go!

26 March 2024

It’s been quite some time since I’d been to a Formula 1 Grand Prix. The last one was in 2005 though it was rather swanky in that it was at Monaco. However, the ticket I had was for general admission and was a lovely present from Cat. She couldn’t come with me so I took my good friend Kieran instead and had a great time on race day watching Kimi Räikkönen emerge victorious driving for McLaren. From what I remember it was an entertaining race, well, as far as races at Monaco go, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere that even us plebs up in the cheap seats (so cheap we were standing) felt a part of it.

When Cat asked me about something to get or do for my 40th last year, attending the Australian Grand Prix seemed a no brainer. So when the tickets went on sale in the middle of last year another general admission ticket was bought. Unlike Monaco, Albert Park has lots of good vantage points for those who have GA tickets. This applies whether you get there really early or within a reasonable distance to the race or day’s action. On my first full day at the circuit (though with bonus steps from being up until the wee small hours) I ended up clocking up 40,000 steps (roughtly 31km) for the day. It gave me a good sense of what the circuit was like, where the better viewpoints were but also where you could still see the cars and some action should the better spots get taken.

A Different Sort of Place

I haven’t been to that many circuits, let alone those used by Formula 1. As mentioned, I’ve been to Monaco, I’ve seen Silverstone, I’ve ran a car around Abu Dhabi and seen the V8s tear up Bathurst on a few occasions too. Each of them carry a different vibe whether it was race-day in the case of Monaco and Bathurst or just open to the public for track experiences and so on like it was for Silverstone and Abu Dhabi. Albert Park was completely different than any of them but I think that was mostly due to my proximity to not only the race but a vast amount of fans. When Max Verstappen retired after a few laps due to a brake issued I’d never heard a crowd cheer so loudly for someone’s retirement or misfortune. I get that one driver or team winning most of the races and titles is boring but it really wans quite something, then again, there were a fair few Ferrari fans around so maybe it was mostly them.

The circuit too was different than Monaco. Still a street circuit in terms of location and style but with far more run-off and traditional track-style corners to be a sort of hybrid. With the changes made last year, removing the chicane at what was turns eight and nine, I think, the circuit flows much better. So much so I believe it was recognised at this year’s race that Albert Park is second now to Monza for higheset average speed which was something like 250km/h which is just nuts! Watching from the hill just above turns eleven and twelve, the speed of their approach and ability to change direction is never more apparent than here are these two turns. Cars such as the Red Bull and Ferrari looked very planted through this section of the track and is likely why they topped the timesheets. Realistically, for Mercedes (or anyone else for that matter) to catch up, they need to understand and try to emulate the sheer amount of grip those cars create as it adds up over one lap.

The City That is Melbourne

I’ve been to Melbourne a few times though this was the first I really got out and explored the city. The first time when I came I got blind drunk within a stones throw of our hotel and the other two times before this weekend was for PAX Aus. For the latter two times I generally went to the convention centre, saw what I wanted, worked my shift and then went back to my accomodation, rinse and repeat. So as I had four evenings to pass I decided that I would head out and really explore the city. Thursday was probably my most adventurous as I ended up in a whisky bar in Fitzroy which was a fair hike from where I was staying. Add that to the walk back to my hotel and then on the convention centre to meet a friend at 1am (don’t ask!) I’d walked my six-thousand step goal before heading to bed.

The next day I got up, headed to the circuit, walked that twice or thereabouts and then met up with a friend that evening for dinner and a stroll. We even made it to Fortress Melbourne to try my hand a competition they were running over the grand prix weekend. After walking back to my hotel I noticed that I’d walked forty-thousand steps or just a shade over thirty kilometers that day! The other days were far less active but still exceeding ten-thousand steps per day. All told it looks like I walked around ninty-thousand steps over the four days I was there. That wasn’t planned by any stretch so I’m proud of myself to be able and willing to just get up and go and keep walking to and from the circuit. That said, the sardine can like trams and busses probably helped my decision to walk.

Well At Least Max Didn’t Win

Overall it was a great weekend and the race ended being the first retirement for Max since Australia 2022 I think so I guess it’s not a track he’s a fan of. It was fun to be in a crowd of Ferrari fans who very much enjoyed his retirement, it was just a shame Oscar Piastri was asked to move aside from Lando Norris and give up the prospect of an Australian being on the podium. Had that happened I’m fairly sure the crowd would have lost it and the atmosphere would’ve been something impressive. Still, it was awesome to be back at the F1 and see them race live, like any sport, watching it live is wholly different to watching them on TV.

I’d love to go back again though when that will be all depends on how life settles out now that I’m a single dad. I’m hoping I might be able to make it something I do every few years and going to Bathurst for the 1000 might also fall into the same bracket although the cost of attendence to Bathurst is a lot lower. I like my motorsport and there’s plenty of it in Australia it’s just that the country is so big getting anywhere can often make it more expensive than you think it should. I’m very grateful for the experience and it was a wonderful gift to receive. It’s been an interesting few months and I suspect the rest of 2024 will throw up more challenges as it rolls on. Hopefully though, it’ll be onwards and upwards in no time!