Slowly but surely the ten Formula One teams are assembling cars, pit boxes, timing stands and equipment in preparation for the 2009 ING Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. Not all the pallets have been off loaded and some may still be at nearby Avalon Airport.
Tuesday’s weather at Albert Park was mostly cloudy and not quite warm. Sprinkles tried unsuccessfully in late afternoon, and into the evening.
This year with all the rule changes, the cars look less uniform and more eye-catching. There are some interesting silhouettes.
The circuit itself is still coming together, with construction ongoing all around the track inside and out. The F1 paddock seems more spacious this year. The F1 Club for high-rollers is coming together with its usual lavish entrance, and this year the TV compound is more visible and very professional – and behind an impressive, tall and foreboding locked cyclone fence.
The ten Formula One teams have all nominated their drivers and there were no surprises this year, no down to the wire speculations. The only Rookie in the field is young SEBASTIAN BUEMI of Switzerland driving for Toro Rosso. At 20, he is the youngest driver, and joins two other drivers with the same name (different spelling); and all three Sebastian/Sebastiens have Red Bull sponsorship – SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS of SCTR and SEBASTIAN VETTEL with Red Bull Racing.
The oldest driver was among the last to be determined – RUBENS BARRICHELLO, who will be driving with Brawn GP – the team which took over the defunct Honda team for whom Barrichello raced last season. JENSON BUTTON will again be Barrichello’s teammate.
The average age of this year’s Formula One drivers is 27 1/2.
The 20 drivers come from eleven countries, none of which are in North America. Germany has the most with five drivers, followed by three from Brazil. Finland, Great Britain and Italy have two drivers each, and there is one driver each from Australia, France, Japan, Poland, Spain, and Switzerland.
Unless it changes, the three FIA Stewards for AGP are Chairman (non-voting) ALAN DONNELLY of England, who is the named Steward for all F1 events; and OLAFUR GUDMUNDSSON of Iceland and RADOVAN NOVAK of the Czech Republic.
The AGP is always a four-day event, with lots of support race activities on Thursday before Formula One takes to the track Friday for three days. The support groups on the final schedule are: V8 Supercars, Mini Challenge, Aussie Racing Cars, Australian GT, Formula Ford, Tasman Cup Revival (Formula 5000), Historic Demonstrations, and The Ultimate Speed Challenge.
Originally the Porsche Carrera Cup was on the schedule, but the series canceled for the season. Then the Celebrity Race dropped off the schedule. Aussie Racing cars and Australian GT filled the void. Some of the canceled Porsches entered the GT group, which now has 15 Porsches among its field. The F5000 group has one American driver, BRUCE LEESON, in a green and gold McLaren M10B. One American driver not shown on any entry list this year is PETER GIDDINGS from Northern California. For the past 24 years Giddings has run one of his vintage cars in the Historic Demonstrations. Up to now, that would have made him the only driver who had run in every AGP, which is celebrating its Silver Anniversary.
Wednesday’s track activities include track inspection and other types of vehicles on track for one reason or another – all requiring race marshals on duty.