Paddock Postcard from Melbourne 29 Mar 2009
Melbourne always goes en fete for the Grand Prix, and this year has been no exception. A series of local events culminated in the annual Grand Prix Ball on Friday night as the race celebrated its 25th year and its 14th in Albert Park.
The off-track entertainment side of things is scheduled to climax with a live performance by rock legends The Who, in their only Australian tour appearance in Melbourne. They will start playing, with the support of Aussie band Dallas Crane, when the podium ceremony has concluded. This follows a great concert by KISS last year.
On track, the hugely popular V8s, Formula Fords, GTs, Minis and Legends (Aussie Racing Cars) were supported by two races for Formula 5000, and a demonstration of historic machinery.
Local firefighting heroes of the recent Victorian bushfires were invited to the annual McLaren Mercedes lunch at the Stokehouse in St Kilda, home of the teams traditional quiz. Their team entry was entitled: We dont know anything about all this but if it catches fire well put it out.
Famous faces in the paddock over the weekend included former MotoGP world champion Mick Doohan, rock star Leo Sayer, Stefan Johansson and Sir Richard Branson. The latter arrived in style on Saturday as F1s latest sponsor, shortly before Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello put his Brawn team on the front row of the grid.
The last time a marque took the first two places in their debut was March, with the Tyrrell and works teams and drivers Jackie Stewart and Chris Amon at Kyalami back in 1970. If you want to be pedantic and specify team rather than marque, you have to go back to Mercedes-Benz at the 1954 French Grand Prix, courtesy of Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling.
Some achievement, in the modern era.