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Thursday weather update - Australia 04 Mar 2004

The new Mercedes CLK Safety Cars.
Australian Grand Prix Preparations, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 3 March 2004 A Renault mechanic works in the pitlane.
Australian Grand Prix Preparations, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 3 March 2004 Ryan Briscoe (AUS) Toyota Test driver.
Australian Grand Prix Preparations, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 3 March 2004 (L to R): Gianmaria Bruni (ITA) Minardi; Paul Stoddart (AUS) Minardi Team Owner and Zsolt Baumgartner (HUN) Minardi at the launch of the Minardi PS04B. 
Australian Grand Prix Preparations, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 3 March 2004 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Australian Grand Prix Preparations, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 3 March 2004

Small risk of rain forecast for Friday practice

Welcome to the first official day of the 2004 FIA Australian Grand Prix meeting here in Melbourne's Albert Park, where the weather has been cloudy, but warm enough for 27C ambient temperatures.

The general forecast is good for the whole weekend. It will be cloudy most of the time, and there is a 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms in the area for the first day of Formula One action tomorrow, but the temperature then should be around 26C, dropping to 21C on Saturday and raceday.

The Albert Park circuit encircles the Albert Park lake and is located in the centre of Melbourne, close to the St Kilda district. It is 5.303 km long and the race will run over 58 laps (307.574 km). It will start at 2pm local time, which is 11 hours ahead of GMT.

The circuit is largely unchanged since the 2003 race, but of interest is the fact that Australian track marshals will be assisted by marshals from the forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix, in order to give the latter hands-on experience prior to their own event in April.

The chequered flag at the end of Sunday's race will be waved by Stephanie Sheene, widow of the motorcycle star Barry who died aged 52 in March 2003.