Australian GP: Why Melbourne is such a great place for a race

Felipe Nasr of Sauber
"Who the devil are you? We were promised Lewis Hamilton..." Felipe Nasr gets to know the locals in Melbourne

"Melbourne is an awfully long way to go for a motor race but, somehow, if any other grand prix were to start the season, it would just not be right.

"The Australians really know how to put on a party and this one hits the spot in just about every way.

"There's the festival atmosphere. The pleasant temperatures (even the occasionally mixed weather can be a blessing). The location in a relaxed yet buzzy city.

"The paddock, with sun chairs laid out on grass behind the garages, provides a beautifully convivial atmosphere for old acquaintances to be reunited after three months apart.

"Even the track, albeit not the greatest in the world, provides just the right combination of action and drama to kicks things off nicely.

"Mix all that with the excitement and anticipation that marks the start of any Formula 1 season, and it is hard to beat."

Andrew Benson, Chief F1 writer

The circuit

Australian GP

Best corners

Australian GP 2002
Turns One and Three: following high-speed straights, the heavy-braking zones leading into these two corners can produce some spectacular moments, such as this one where Ralf Schumacher kind of forgot to slow down behind Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari in 2002

Result prediction

steve mason
The former Beta Band frontman believes Ferrari might just be close enough to the all-conquering Mercedes for the talents of four-time champion Vettel to make the difference

Winner takes all?

Nationalities of the eight Australian GP winners who have gone on to win the world title in the past 20 years. In no particular order, these are British trio Damon Hill (1996), Lewis Hamilton (2008, 2015) and Jenson Button (2009), German pair Michael Schumacher (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004) and Sebastian Vettel (2011), Finns Kimi Raikkonen (2007) and Mika Hakkinen (1998), and Spain's Fernando Alonso (2006)
Nationalities of the eight Australian GP winners who have gone on to win the world title in the past 20 years. In no particular order, these are British trio Damon Hill (1996), Lewis Hamilton (2008, 2015) and Jenson Button (2009), German pair Michael Schumacher (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004) and Sebastian Vettel (2011), Finns Kimi Raikkonen (2007) and Mika Hakkinen (1998), and Spain's Fernando Alonso (2006)

Local wildlife

A spider on the back on Nico rosberg's car
A huge spider stuck itself, Alien-style, on the back of Nico Rosberg's car while on the way to the beach in Melbourne

Melbourne loves a race

A flying toilet at the Melbourne Birdman Rally
Nope, this is not Manor's new car, the city has just held its annual Birdman Rally - where people dressed as toilets and with flying devices jump into the water

Nice day out before the madness

Jack Nicholls, Jennie Gow and Tom Clarkson
Radio 5 live commentator Jack Nicholls, presenter Jennie Gow and analyst Tom Clarkson hit the beach ahead of the media scrum madness on Thursday. (Allan McNish, out of shot, was buying an ice cream for Andrew Benson)

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