First impressions from Albert Park


Mat Coch writes:

Before I start I'd like to pay tribute to Matthew Harrison. Last weekend I was at Eastern Creek where the youngster lost his life in a club level race meet. The thoughts of myself, Pitpass and I'm sure the entire motor racing community are with his family and friends.

It was a sombre way to start a week that will culminate in the opening Grand Prix of the season. On Tuesday it was Bathurst as Jenson Button wrestled his way around the Mount Panorama circuit, before I set out on the long drive to Melbourne on Wednesday morning.

On the whole it's been a pleasant welcome to Melbourne, and Albert Park. New tarmac at turn nine has apparently taken out a large bump just before the braking area, Heikki Kovalainen for one was pleased with the change suggesting it will be easier to balance the car.

Fans too will be pleased with the grandstands along the pit straight, the old yellow and green monstrosity that looks to have been a hand-me-down from the Grand Prix in Adelaide has finally been replaced.

The pit complex too has had a bit of an extension. The V8 Supercar garages have moved in to pit lane from the tents behind the F1 paddock they've used previously.

Even more exciting is the news that the media centre has new carpet. That should keep us pesky journalists happy for a day or two.

Unfortunately I can't say the same for my own accommodation, which doesn't have carpet and resembles a prison cell. Still, at dinner last night the talk around the pub I stumbled into was all about the Grand Prix, while one can't walk the streets without bumping into someone wearing motor racing paraphernalia. It seems despite locals being less than enthusiastic about the race, those that are in favour of it are more than happy to show their support.

So much so that as I drove into the circuit this morning, shortly after 8am, crowds were already spilling in to Albert Park. Gates don't officially open until 10am while official track action doesn't start until midday, yet that doesn't deter the die-hard fans who braved the windy, cold and drizzly weather.

Rain is expected today and again tomorrow though should clear for Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures are set to hover around twenty degrees across the weekend, less than ideal conditions for Pirelli which like warmer weather… or so we're told.

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Published: 23/03/2011
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