What do you want when a season of any sport starts? Excitement? Big crowds? Good location? If the answer is yes to all of these questions, it’s no wonder why Melbourne’s Albert Park has established itself as the now traditional opening round of the Formula One championship.
Since moving to the location in 1996 after Adelaide’s Parklands Circuit had hosted the end of season Australian Grand Prix from 1985 to 1995, Albert Park has held 22 Grands Prix so far in the Formula One era, with all but two of these being the first round of the year.
For Australian and Asia-Pacific fans of the sport, the location of Melbourne makes it relatively easy to travel to with national and international flights available in to the city. The convenience of the track being so close to the CBD also helps fans engage in the city’s culture, especially if sport is your thing.
The track itself is a combination of fast, flowing corners which test the aerodynamics of each car to the slow speed, technical corners that do a good job of highlighting any imperfections in a chassis.
Despite a lot of street circuits making it as hard as possible for fans without the money for grandstand access to see the action, Albert Park provides a plethora of opportunities for general admission punters, often with TV screens so the commentary doesn’t have to be the eyes and ears for the crowds.
One of the few negatives about the location of the race is the start time of the race; not as much for locals but for those in Europe who have to get up at sparrows to catch the race. While Australians have to deal with this problem in the later stage of the season with the American races, the big effect on the European market is evident whenever discussion is started on the mainland.
Support categories are the backbone of any good race and with the Supercars round at Albert Park next year now being counted as a part of the championship, interest may increase from the die-hard fans of the touring car series. The Australian Carrera Cup Championship and the GT Championship provide further entertainment while waiting for the main show.
With only a little under three months until the 2018 season gets underway, fans will be finalising their tickets and accommodation to see what could be one of the best Formula One seasons to date.
Image via Kiama Independent