Melbourne’s peak-hour traffic was brought to a standstill as the Swisse Two-Seater Formula 1 cars were greeted by the city’s Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, along with John Harnden AM and Andrew Westacott, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation’s deputy chairman and CEO, respectively.
After a short and very noisy blast down Collins Street, the two two-seater F1 cars pulled up outside Melbourne’s Town Hall to be greeted by the event’s dignitaries and the Rolex Australian Grand Prix grid girls, who were resplendent in their 1960s-inspired dresses.
The lucky passengers in the show cars – piloted by Cameron McConville and Zsolt Baumgartner – were the Grand Prix ambassador Georgia Geminder and Dr Chris Barnes, who was representing the Royal Children’s Hospital, the event’s official charity.
Geminder had another opportunity to play passenger ahead of a full-speed assault around the Albert Park circuit later this week, and told RichardsF1.com that her fitness was steadily improving.
“I’m building up ahead of my 300km/h run on Thursday,” she smiled.
“It is an amazing opportunity and I’m loving every minute of it,” she said of her ambassadorial role.
“Everyone is so enthusiastic about the event! Of course, there’s all the on-track action but there’s also many things to look forward to: [skateboarding legend] Tony Hawk is headlining the off-track action, while we have Bernard Fanning at the event’s concert series for all the music lovers. I can’t wait!”
Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott was also singing the race’s praises, with the Albert Park circuit getting set to welcome the greatest technical regulations change in the sport’s history.
“The event is so exciting!” he told RichardsF1.com. “We have a return to turbo cars for the first time since 1988, and the sporting capital of Australia is ready for the on-track action kicking off on Friday!
“I’d love to squeeze Daniel Ricciardo into my ‘box trifecta’,” he added, when asked about his predictions for Sunday’s 58-lap race.
“The Renault and Red Bull Racing guys certainly know how to tune an engine, but as we saw in pre-season testing, they are up against it. Clearly Mercedes seem to be the outright favourites when it comes to speed and reliability at the moment and it looks like it will be a battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
This time of year also bring about much talk about the event’s future, and with its contract set to expire in 2016, the AGPC is hard at work negotiating a new deal.
“We’ve dealt with Formula One Management for well over two decades, and we have a strong working relationship with them,” Westacott added.
“They know what Melbourne does for the F1 calendar and what value it adds as the season-opener; there’s positive intent from everyone at FOM, and there’s certainly positive intent from all of us at the AGPC.
“The government knows major events do for the Victorian economy, and all parties are looking for a successful outcome. It’s a decision that ultimately lies with the state premier [Denis Napthine], major events minister Louise Asher and the cabinet.
“My focus, and that of my staff and suppliers, is to highlight the value that the event clearly brings and to ensure that there is no better to place to be on Sunday than Albert Park watching the Formula 1.”
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Images via the Australian Grand Prix Corporation