The glitz and glamour of Formula One raced onto the Red Carpet to celebrate the official launch party of the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix last night.
Held at Melbourne’s iconic Club 23 at Crown, Formula One teams were joined by motorsport personalities and a host of Australian celebrities at the annual gala event.
RichardsF1.com was on the red carpet to cover the event, and we were lucky enough to speak with a host of big names from the world of motorsport, the stage, screen and catwalk.
Leading the coterie of celebs was the 2013 Australian Grand prix ambassador Chelsea Scanlan, who has had the thrill of several rides in the Swisse F1x2 Seater car as part of a host of other duties she has graciously fulfilled in her role.
“It’s been such a wild ride; the past month has been full on and I can’t believe this weekend has come around so quickly,” she told us on the red carpet.
“The ride down the Great Ocean Road [in the F1x2 Seater] was unbelievable; I only found out the day before that it was going to happen, and it’s definitely the most amazing experience I’ve had as the 2013 Australian Grand Prix Ambassador!”
Also in tow was last year’s ambassador, Kate Peck, who is this year competing in the Mazda6 Celebrity Challenge with twenty other famous faces, including actors Jonathan La Paglia and Holly Candy (nee Valance), as well as Olympic gold medallists Sir Chris Hoy and Anna Meares.
“It’s quite exciting being behind the wheel as opposed to being in the passenger seat,” Peck beamed.
“I can now die as I’ve achieved everything I want to in my motorsport life!
“If I’m not going to win, then I will have to crash. It will have to be one or the other; there can’t be any happy medium here.
“Being the Grand Prix Ambassador was an amazing step for my career,” she said, when asked to reflect on her time in the role last year.
“Shortly after last year’s event, I landed a role with MTV, and I’ve been lucky enough to interview all sorts of amazing artists, musicians and actors. It’s an incredible international company to work for and I am so lucky to have had this opportunity.”
Also in tow were a good selection of drivers from the V8 Supercars grid. We were lucky enough to speak with Nissan Motorsport duo Todd Kelly and James Moffat, who were realistic about the challenges that the Albert Park circuit would give their Nissan Altimas.
“We always knew it was going to be a tough first event for us [at the Clipsal 500],” Kelly told us.
“We’d only really just had all four cars built before the event and had very limited testing beforehand. More importantly, the engine for the car – which is a completely foreign design for the championship – has a lot more work needed.
“This weekend will be a good indication of where we’re at in terms of top-line speed, but I fear that the issues we had in Adelaide will repeat themselves here because of Albert Park’s long straights. We’re a bit down on straight-line speed, but I am sure we can improve bit by bit.”
For James Moffat, he has to contend with new machinery and a new team, after switching to the team after two years with Dick Johnson Racing.
“It’s been fantastic, so far, since joining Nissan Motorsport,” he grinned.
“I’ve spent the last two years driving for a Queensland-based team, and being born in Melbourne, it’s nice to return home in a way. The team has so much experience, and with it being a factory-supported programme with Nissan, there are lots of exciting things to come.”
Multiple V8 Supercar champion Mark Skaife was also a guest at the glittering event. The driver-turned-commentator has been a leading figure in framing the series’ new ‘Car of the Future’ regulations, which were given their first major test a fortnight ago at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide.
“I’d give the first running of the ‘Car of the Future’ an 11/10,” he told us.
“The average DNF rate at the Clipsal 500 is around 7 cars per race; on the first day we ran without a safety car and only had four retirements. For a completely new field where every car is brand new and to only have four cars not finish is a huge achievement.
“It’s a proud moment for me, but more importantly for the sport. To have two extra manufacturers on board will future-proof the sport from a sustainability perspective. It’s a very exciting time, and the day the other car companies win a race will make it a very big day for V8 Supercars.”
Formula 1 was also well-represented, with former World Champion Alan Jones making an appearance following our earlier interview with him.
Two-time Australian Grand Prix winner David Coulthard was also also on the red carpet. The Scot was kind enough to grant us a longer interview, which you can read here.