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2002 Foster's Australian Grand Prix - The World According To Formula One The 2002 Foster's Australian Grand Prix is just 100 days away, and when the curtain rises in Melbourne on the biggest annual international sporting championship on earth...

2002 Foster's Australian Grand Prix - The World According To Formula One

The 2002 Foster's Australian Grand Prix is just 100 days away, and when the curtain rises in Melbourne on the biggest annual international sporting championship on earth it will be -- The World According to Formula One.

Albert Park will be transformed again from February 28 to March 3 into the magical paradise that has become the launch place of each year's Formula One World Championship.

In 2002 Albert Park will see the debut in F1 of Japan's biggest car manufacturer, Toyota.

Becoming the 12th team in international motor racing's premier competition, Toyota's drivers will be the experienced Finn Mika Salo and Scotsman Allan McNish, a rookie but with years of sports car racing experience behind him. Melbourne's Grand Prix will mark the arrival in F1 of two outstanding young talents -- Takuma Sato, potentially the best driver to have come out of Japan, and Felipe Massa, perhaps Brazil's brightest hope since the great Ayrton Senna.

It will see the new Flying Finn, Kimi Raïkkonen, racing for the first time for powerhouse team McLaren after his stunning debut season with Sauber in 2001.

There's a chance of an Australian making the grid too, with Mark Webber among the drivers under consideration for the spare seat in expatriate Melbourne businessman Paul Stoddart's Minardi team.

Two other young Aussies are making headway towards breaking into the F1 ranks -- 21-year-old James Courtney, who will be Jaguar Racing's test driver in 2002, and 20-year-old Ryan Briscoe, who has recently tested with new entrant Toyota.

How appropriate then that Foster's, Australia's global beer brand, has become the major sponsor of the Australian Grand Prix for the next five years. Securing the naming rights to the Grand Prix in its home town was the crown jewel for Foster's, which already has a worldwide presence in Formula One. Its beer and its Beringer Blass wines are sure to be the toast of the town on the first weekend of March.

Foster's is bringing 1,000 international guests to Melbourne for the Grand Prix as part of an international promotion it has called Fostralia. Those visitors will boost the already well-documented tourism benefits of the Grand Prix to Victoria.

Qantas remains a dedicated Grand Prix supporter as official airline, while other major sponsors are AMP, BMW, the TAC and Coca-Cola, while a new sponsor for the crowd-pleasing V8 Supercars at the event will be a leading Australian internet service provider, Netspace.

Ferrari, McLaren and Williams are likely to be the Formula One pacesetters in Melbourne, with the two Honda-powered teams -- Jordan and British American Racing -- and Ferrari-engined Sauber hot on their heels.

Michael Schumacher, now a four-time world champion and winner of a record 53 GPs, is shooting for a third consecutive victory at Albert Park and Ferrari is seeking its fourth straight success on the street circuit.

Williams in particular, after four wins in 2001 and with its BMW engines reputed to be the most powerful in F1, looms again as a serious challenger to Ferrari's recent dominance. Team principal Sir Frank Williams says either of his drivers, Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, could be world champion if his team gives them the machinery to do it.

The 2002 season will be ushered in with BMW's sensational new MINI Cooper as the car for the stars in the Australian Grand Prix's popular celebrity challenge. The open-top Z3s took this event to new heights over the past three years, but 28 MINIs promise an even more entertaining package.

The rivalry between Australian touring car racing's two greatest names, Peter Brock and Dick Johnson, becomes a family feud at Albert Park with these icons joined by their sons, James and Steven, in a series of relay races in cars Brock and Johnson raced in the 1980s.

The Brocks will drive the 1987 Holden Commodore that Peter started in at what ultimately became his last Bathurst victory, while the Johnsons will be behind the wheel of the brutal Ford Sierra in which Dick won both the 1989 Australian Touring Car Championship and that year's Bathurst enduro.

The banquet of racing action that makes the Grand Prix so much more than any other motor sport event includes the 30 top V8 Supercars, Cleanevent's exotic Nations Cup, the Karcher Formula Ford Track Attack, and the Tattersall's Historics -- this time featuring great sports cars of the 1950s and '60s.

There's an invitational category to be announced in coming weeks, and the ever-popular corporate karts too.

The Trading Post Grand Prix Rally takes a new route in 2002, venturing into eastern Victoria for the first time -- from Shepparton, over the Alps, to Lakes Entrance, then through the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland to Phillip Island, before motoring on to Albert Park.

A highlight of the week is always the Grand Prix Ball, and this year the charity benefiting from it is Open Family Australia - which provides 24-hour support for street children.

The auction at the GP Ball, the Show 'n' Shine at the circuit, and the official GP Auction after the big race are all run and sponsored by Shannons, Australia's leading insurance provider for vintage, classic and collectible vehicles.

The hundreds of thousands of Grand Prix fans at Albert Park come in all manner of costumes, and there will be $12,000 for prize-winners in Triple M radio's Best-Dressed Fan Competition.

Everywhere you turn at Albert Park there's something to do or see -- including the GP Expo, presented by Gilette, the F1 Exhibition, the Kärcher freestyle motocross, stunt riders, and autograph sessions with the big names.

The RAAF always put on a flaming great show overhead, while the activities on Albert Park Lake are more sedate.

Eighteen superscreens, nine grandstands and six spectator mounds give fans great viewing of the action-packed four-day program.

Grandstand and General Admission tickets are only a phone call away -- through Ticketmaster7 on 131 641.

Single-day adult General Admission starts at just $39 for the Thursday, up to $90 for the Sunday. A four-day adult General Admission ticket is great value at $155.

Purchasers of 10 General Admission tickets of the same type and price in a single booking before the close of business on February 22, 2002, are entitled to one extra equivalent ticket as a bonus.

Family and concession General Admission tickets are also available. The Grand Prix's concession policy was broadened in 2001 and now includes pensioner concession card holders, State Government seniors card holders, children 15 years and under and full-time students.

A four-day Family General Admission ticket -- for two children and two adults, or three children accompanied by an adult - is $310.

Grandstand prices for the full four days of the Grand Prix range from $339 to $549 for the Brabham and Jones stands named in honour of Australia's two Formula One world champions.

Corporate hospitality bookings are through the Australian Grand Prix Corporation on 03 9258 7100.

-www.grandprix.com.au

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Series CAMS , F1