Posted by: Rebecca | March 20, 2012

Race day! C’mon Team GB, bring it home boys!


Discovering the Crown (and Prada directly opposite the hotel entrance *dangerous*)

Race day! And it starts pretty well… a lie in! No idea what time I passed out last night, but it’s about 11am when I wake up – happy days. Rather than eat in the hotel, we opt for a different breakfast this morning, and head down to the strip of bistros along the river. I say strip – this makes it sound like something from Benidorm; with a token Linekers, a greasy kebab shop and a Irish chippy. But this is nothing of the kind. In fact, the walk through the Crown complex reveals a marble hallway, complete with pyrotechnic fountain lights (which could give Pink Floyd a run for their money) Prada, Louis Vitton, and a plethora of other similar retail establishments. Wowzers!


Emerging out on the riverside, there are a ‘series’ (far more appropriate than ‘strip’) of bistros, café bars and ice cream shelves (I’m sooooo trying one of those later nom nom…). We find somewhere to sit, order breakfast and discuss the next few days. Discussions don’t get far as we’re too excited about the race! So breakfast lasts 20 minutes and get up to leave… This is where the entertainment begins.

If she tells you to go left, you know it’s going to be on the right…

Now mum isn’t the fastest on her feet, and as dad and I need to go back to the hotel to collect our race day kit, we agree she should wander down to the tram stop where we’d alighted yesterday, and we’d meet her there. This was not complicated. It simply meant turning left out of the café entrance and walking about 50 yards along the river bank, stopping at the well signposted tram stop. (The crowd of people already standing there, dressed in F1 stash of greater quality (McLaren…) and questionable likeability (Ferrari…) was surely a clear giveaway)? However, it took dad a good 10 minutes to describe this process to mum, who questioned every step, to make sure she knew where we were sending her. She then proceeded to turn round and set off back into the café (whilst she claims this was to use the dunny before leaving, dad suspects she actually still had no idea where she was meant to be going). This caused much amusement to the two girls sitting in the café, who understood exactly what was going on, and would undoubtedly have redirected mum, had she looked in any way lost. But we manage to meet at the tram stop and hop on the #96 to Albert Park.

The excitement is building; the banter between fans is there in abundance; Lewis is on pole, Jenson is beside him, and we have seats at turn one to see the early (critical) action unfold; live, loud and like no other experience in the world. (It’s worth noting here that, anyone who says watching live F1 is rubbish as it’s just neow, neow, neow… pause… neow, neow, neow… is simply jealous. That’s like saying why go to the Opera, when you can put on a CD? It’s the experience, the atmosphere, the excitement, the whole package.

We’re in the thick of it and we can’t wait. One light, two lights, three lights, etc… lights out and they’re off! They fly down the straight into turn one and we see the glorious rocket red and silver MP24-7s in P1 and P2! But hang on, they’re the wrong way around? The chap in front is wearing a blue helmet, with the Senna-esque beauty BEHIND him?… Lewis, babe, that wasn’t in the plan? What’s going on? Mum, by this point, is looking down trying to figure out how to adjust her camera to stop taking shots of the fencing in front of us, and focus on the cars beyond. Dad was obviously watching the video screen on the other side of the track to see the ACTUAL start and thus was shouting that “Jenson got a flier…!” Whilst I was focusing on the chaos of drivers spinning through turn one, leaving poor Bruno Senna facing the wrong direction, but entertaining the crowds by doughutting to get round and catch up with the rest of the field. You’ve got to the love the start of a Grand Prix! But no safety car… yet.

From this point on, I shan’t articulate the entire form of the race, as I’m guessing those who are interested will have seen the highlights on SkyF1 or BBC1. But needless to say, the following 90 minutes mostly include us waiting to see if people have changed positions elsewhere on the circuit, as they fly threw the chicane on turns 1&2; revelling in Schumi’s early retirement; and feeling decidedly gutted for a brave Maldanado, who drives a great race but retires (courtesy of the pit wall?) on his last lap. A few jovial text messages are sent to the Mercedes Petronas pit wall, “tell Michael to get used to the sight of back of the McLaren, as it leaves him standing…” which, when Lewis slips back behind Nico, is answered by “The car in front is ???” clearly demanding my response of “…a temporary measure!” Honourable in defeat though, as the better team finishes on the podium I’m rewarded for Team GB’s efforts with an invite to Schumi’s after race party back in town – sweeeeeeeet!

Said party doesn’t start until the paddock teams have all broken their garage down and finished their work for the day (I never realised quite how much there is to do after the champaaaaaaaaaaagne – samples, scrutineers, parc ferme…) so the first Bombay Saphire doesn’t pass my lips until around 1am I think? (I say “I think” because, no surprise, it was a late finish and I’ve no idea at what time). I can, however, proudly say that, when asked if I wanted to be introduced to Michael, I politely decline. Conscious of the fact that, for him and most of the other people around me, this is a work party, not an opportunity to star gaze or ask for autographs. Whilst I‘m unbelievably grateful for being invited, and had a great night, I still think Schumi is a twit and nowhere near as good as Team GB – sorry, but it’ll take more than that to switch my allegiance from McLaren to Mercedes! Besides, a little light competition is fun, right? All-in-all, another great day, and end to a brilliant and memorable Australian Grand Prix.

ttfn /Boxy xx
PS – I got my ice cream on the way home too – huuuuuuge! Image

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