All the usual suspects (Bracks, Walker et
al) claimed that the crowd at the Melbourne Formula One race was only slightly
down
on previous years.

For what it’s worth, it felt like there was
a lot more elbow room in the public ticket areas compared to last year, and
there was ample parking on Moray Street, South Melbourne (outside the
restricted zone). Imagine that within 200 metres of the gate for the Grand
Final or the Melbourne Cup.

More than any other sport we can think of,
except for perhaps a marathon, Formula One is unwatchable at ground level, from
the viewpoint of a general admission ticket, but yesterday’s race would have
been fantastic on TV.

If you fork out the big dollars for a
grandstand seat, F1 offers a big screen so you can see the actual race, in
between watching the blur of low flying jets on wheels screaming past. You need
that screen. Without it (as was the case for most of the public punters,
standing on mounds on the Albert Park golf course), you have no idea who’s
winning or who’s dropped out.

One minute Webber flies past (at least, you
think it’s Webber) and then Webber’s not coming past any more. Hmm … turns out
his gearbox blew on the other side of the course, you find out later.
Schumacher? Where’s Schu gone? Oh, crashed. Apparently. Yet on TV, F1 is a tight package, with
every manoeuvre, crash and pit stop covered.

Having said all that, we heartily recommend
attending one Formula One race in your lifetime. The sheer sensory overload of
this spectacle is incredible and, having witnessed it live, I have a whole new
respect for the reflexes and nerve of these drivers.

As is so often the case in most sports,
television cannot hope to convey the speed and noise of the real thing. Having
now witnessed that, I can kick back and watch from the couch next year, so I
have a clue about what’s happening.

Peter Fray

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