Wednesday was relatively quiet at Albert Park in Melbourne leading up to the 2010 Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix. In Pit Lane many of the F1 teams were at work hidden behind screens totally blocking any view into their garages. Force India was one of the few who eschewed screens.
For three hours in the afternoon, the Pit Lane was mobbed with various spectator/fan tours with those who had spent the big bucks for the opportunity. They were rewarded with the McLaren team’s pit stop practice.
The Minardi F1 two-seater made eight runs Wednesday afternoon, four each with driver ZSOLT BAUMGARTNER and retired Aussie V8 Supercar driver, CAMERON McCONVILLE. The drivers will continue to provide the thrill rides throughout the weekend. Car owner, PAUL STODDART of Australia, was on hand watching and catching up with folks. When asked, he told me that he may have been misquoted in the media recently – he wasn’t sure as he hadn’t been following it.
Earlier in the day, the GP Girls accompanied that Minardi F1 two-seater to a downtown show and tell at the GPO, with a male model posing as the driver. For the first time in recent memory, the GP Girls weren’t showing much skin. My comment on the all-black outfits – “Nice hats.”
There were a few dog and pony shows going on around town, with some of the F1 drivers taking part in a variety of activities to promote the race. SEBASTIAN VETTEL/Red Bull Racing was the good sport, trying out Aussie pastimes such as throwing a boomerang and blowing a didgeridoo.
Behind the scenes, in the track’s Medical Center, the CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sports) Medical Team went through its paces for the FIA F1 doctors. The obligatory Extrication Practice went well, with the Aussie team earning praise for being well under the mark. F1 has a programmable test dummy controlled with a remote held by the F1 Medical Director. The worst case scenario exercise included the dummy having cardiac arrest. Another Extrication Practice went on in the Lotus garage.
F1 Stewards are required to have a FIA Super Licence, which is granted based on experience. This year Drivers/Ex Drivers will be included in the four FIA F1 Stewards at each Grand Prix. Three stewards are nominated by FIA, while the ASN for each race (CAMS at AGP) nominate the fourth. In Melbourne, the local steward is STEVE CHOPPING, who will work with GERD ENNSER of Germany; and PAUL GUTJAHR of Switzerland; along with current driver/eight-time Le Mans winner, TOM KRISTENSEN of Denmark.
The 2010 FIA F1 plan is have a core of eight stewards who work five races each, and two races apiece for the ex-drivers.
The former driver panel includes RENE ARNOUX of France; GIL de FERRAN of Brazil; EMERSON FITTIPALDI of Brazil; HEINZ-HARALD FRENTZEN of Germany; JOHNNY HERBERT of England; DAMON HILL of England, who will officiate at Monaco; ALAIN PROST of France, who worked Bahrain; DEREK WARWICK of Great Britain; and ALEX WURZ of Austria, assigned to the China race. DANNY SULLIVAN of USA, has been in discussions with FIA and is keen on the idea, while another American, F1 Champion, MARIO ANDRETTI, hasn’t expressed interest. Conflicts of interest with current TV gigs prevent inclusion MARC SURER of Switzerland or PATRICK TAMBAY of France.