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Mat Coch writes:
There is always an air of the first day of school in Melbourne. Historically the first race of the year it provides many with their first opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues since the end of last season back in November. Indeed some, like Lotus press man Andy Stobart, are unrecognisable without their Movember moustache.
As a weekend it is eagerly anticipated. As an event it's relished and Melbourne, as a city, is loved by the F1 folk who visit. Perhaps not as much as Adelaide once was, but then this writer could be considered biased having spent his youth in the City of Churches.
While the race does have its detractors the Australian Grand Prix does have strong, verging on fanatical, support as relaxed and enthusiastic locals do their best to go ballistic for four days straight. They succeed more often than not, with many spending hours loitering outside hotels desperate to catch a glimpse of their heroes.
One needs only a cursory glance at Twitter in recent weeks to gain a sense of the growing excitement. Jacqui, a Melbourne local, has been posting pictures daily of the circuit during construction, accompanied by her officially unofficial mascot 'West', a small teddy bear wearing a McLaren race suit.
Jacqui's passion will be matched by hundreds of thousands of others, and that is what makes the Australian Grand Prix special. Knowledgeable, enthusiastic fans throwing open the doors to their city for a few short days, welcoming the sport.
Throughout the weekend a bank of screaming fans, chanting driver's names decked out head-to-toe in team apparel, loiters just outside the paddock gates. It's a sight to behold as the lucky ones get autographs from all the drivers and a lot of the personalities associated with the sport. It's no wonder the event is so popular among the F1 fraternity.
Of course there are a few detractors and they've said their piece in recent weeks, but for the next week Albert Park will host the world's largest travelling circus. The fun part is working out just who is the ring-master, and who are the clowns.
You can stay abreast of all the happenings live from the paddock by following Pitpass on Twitter, while our roving reporter Mat Coch is on the ground in Albert Park.
Check out our Wednesday gallery, here.
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