[F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX: EVENT PREPARATION

Pre-season testing begins next week in Barcelona, all 10 squads bringing their 2018 steeds to the Circuit de Catalunya for bulletproofing: 2018’s 21 rounds the equal longest calendar in history.

But over in Melbourne – preparations are ongoing, for the annual season- opening Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, on March 25, and, as with any host nation, it’s a massive source of pride.

SOUNDBITE (English) ALAN JONES,
1980 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“It’s extremely important. It’s probably one of the biggest sporting events in the world. I mean, Formula 1 has an audience that surpasses just about everybody else.”

It’s also a big logistical challenge with 290 thousand man hours needed to create the temporary Albert Park Street Circuit.

SOUNDBITE (English) ANDREW WESTACOTT,
CEO, AUSTRALIAN GP CORPORATION:
“There’s a milestone it’s Christmas, we then get sales, we get planning, we get the circuit designs done from a hospitality and a layout point of view. And then we start to put all the little pieces in from when we come back in early January all the way to the line in March.”

The track build itself is complex with huge numbers involved: 34 thousand square metres of marquees required for corporate hospitality, 38 thousand seats for the grandstands; before the convoy of jets fly in with the precious F1 cargo, including the cars.

So, with little more than a month to go until lights out – the pressure is on to get everything ready before 300 thousand fans flood through the gates, many of whom are international guests.

SOUNDBITE (English) DAVID COULTHARD,
F1 DRIVER, 1994-2008:
“Me and lots of other foreigners who travel in especially for the Grand Prix enjoy the reception and there’s no question that what the Australian Grand Prix Corporation do is put on an amazing show for everyone.”

And, while this will be the 23rd time Albert Park has hosted the Australian Grand Prix, the organisers relish the challenge of keeping things fresh for fans, and ensuring everything runs smoothly throughout.

SOUNDBITE (English) ANDREW WESTACOTT,
CEO, AUSTRALIAN GP CORPORATION:
“We’re at that really exciting period where sales are extremely strong, [and] we’re hearing who might be coming out for the race, we’ve got different arrangements that might be worked through with the Formula 1 teams. So the treadmill’s getting quicker and quicker, day on day, and we’ll be racing as fast as the cars come 25th of March.”