Tomorrow’s “community day” marks the official start of the season opening Australian Grand Prix. All fans are welcome to attend free of charge and experience the new era of Formula One racing.
While there will be many seasoned regulars who will already have their tickets, for some it may be a first time experience. Who better to hand out top advice than Ferrari aficionado Anthony Hvala, who has attended every Australian Grand Prix since the event switched to Melbourne in 1996.
“Take sunscreen,” he promptly suggests. As Melbourne is renowned for having four seasons in one day, he also recommends taking an umbrella as getting caught in the rain with limited shelter can be an uncomfortable experience.
A great tip for the grandstand ticket holders is to bring a hand towel.
“In the mornings when you go to get your seat, there’s dew from the night before and it’s wet. You don’t wanna sit down and get a wet ass.”
Of course all the fans want to get up close and meet their heroes to possibly get a photo or an autograph, but there’s a certain way of doing it if you want to be successful.
“The autograph stage is actually one of the hardest place to meet the drivers. One year I waited four hours to meet Kimi [Raikkonen] and Felipe [Massa] in 40-degree heat, I wouldn’t recommend it in those conditions! To actually get an autograph you have to get there extremely early and wait a long time, you’re not guaranteed anything.”
Anthony recommends finding a spot where the drivers enter and doing your best to stand out, something which he is quite proficient at with his height, large red wig and face paint.
“Be polite and have a bit of fun with the drivers. I have a bit of a joke around with Fernando [Alonso] when I see him. Sebastian [Vettel], as much as I don’t like the guy because he’s Red Bull, I joke I say “Mate I got a Ferrari contract in my bag ready for you to sign”, and he loves it and has a laugh.”
As far as viewing around the track goes, you can’t go past turn one and two, in either the Jones or the Brabham grandstand.
However as these can be quite pricey seats, there are alternatives that offer great viewing and won’t break the bank.
“For me Turn 9’s not a bad stand, the Clark stand. You get to see the cars come in and navigate the chicane before speeding off.”
General admission ticket holders will need to find a place and stick with it if they want the chance to see the cars fly around the track.
“There’s a good spot on Turn 9 called Brocky’s Hill which is elevated and is a great place to watch, just get there early and set up camp.”
Another good general admission spot he suggests is Turns 11 and 12 where the cars go through a second and faster chicane.
Community Day visitors are asked to make a gold coin donation, with all proceeds going to the Australian Grand Prix’s chosen charity, the Royal Children’s Hospital.
Images via Anthony Hvala