Tuesday at Albert Park in Melbourne, the F1 circus was quietly busy in Pit Lane; but that area and much of the surrounding areas were off limits to most. They had been designated as ‘Construction Zones’ requiring the neon safety vests and making the areas even more restricted than in the past. The whole area is like an entire city being built practically from the ground up in less than a week.
Workers are busy everywhere finishing construction, installations, landscaping and adding finishing touches.
Besides the F1 Swipe Gates, which limit access to the F1 Pit Lane and Paddock, there are other FIA/FOM installations, some of which appear to have even higher security. The F1 International TV Compound is at least the size of a city square block, all fenced in with locked gates, and Security on either side of its Swipe Gates. The International Media Center also has Swipe Gates. Only the National Media Center has escaped this limitation.
Things must be going well for the teams, as the lads and lassies legged it out of the track late afternoon. FIA has curfew hours for the teams, and for this year Thursday night have been extended from six to eight hours, and the teams are now allowed two exceptions, also known as ‘jokers.’
One installation is complete – the Fan Gallery. This is the area designated for fans to occupy while watching the entrance to the F1 Paddock. Starting Thursday it fills up, and by Friday it’s packed with eager fans to watch and hope for a glimpse, a photo or even an autograph. The drivers usually are driven in and dropped off here, some drive themselves, and occasionally a driver walks in.
For Formula One, the weekend starts on Friday, but AGP has always been a four-day action-packed event, with the highly popular V8 Supercars (MSS Security Challenge) and five other support events – Porsche Carrera Cup, Total Oil International Sports Car Challenge, Mazda Celebrity Challenge, Shannons Historic Demonstration, and Ultimate Speed Comparison. Additionally there are various other events and demonstrations, on the track, around the track and in the air. The RAF Roulettes Air Display happens daily.
Melbourne has been suffering from a heat wave, with weather in the mid-nineties for the past week. The 3500 Pirelli race tires which arrived at Albert Park on Monday were immune from the heat, which would have done them in had they arrived in ordinary shipping containers. These tires, which spent two weeks on the sea, were in special climate-controlled units.
The heat is supposed break by race weekend, with rain in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday. Stay tuned.