MELBOURNE FEELS THE SPIRIT OF FORMULA ONE Melbourne embraced the spirit of Formula One today with an estimated crowd of 150,000 fans on hand to see the city's first-ever F1 Street Parade. Three Formula One cars and two of Australia's own V8 ...
MELBOURNE FEELS THE SPIRIT OF FORMULA ONE
Melbourne embraced the spirit of Formula One today with an estimated crowd of 150,000 fans on hand to see the city's first-ever F1 Street Parade.
Three Formula One cars and two of Australia's own V8 Supercars did 'laps' of a specially prepared temporary track around some of the city's most famous landmarks.
Local hero Mark Webber, who will make his BMW Williams debut at the 2005 Formula One Foster's Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park this weekend, toured the 'circuit' in an open-topped BMW and waved to the huge crowd, many of whom will be at the real circuit at Albert Park to cheer him on this weekend.
"It was fantastic to see everyone out there enjoying Formula One so close up, really smelling it and feeling it," said the 28-year-old Australian. "The drivers looked like they had a ball."
"It was great to get close to everyone and really feel the spirit -- that's what it was all about."
Also doing laps up Swanston Street, along Collins, down Russell, back along Flinders and down to the Arts Centre were Minardi boss Paul Stoddart in one of his own F1 cars and his new driver, Dutchman Christijan Albers.
"I think everyone is going to have fantastic memories of a spectacular event," said Stoddart. "I was so impressed by the crowd: they were very supportive, and they should be very proud of this city. Melbourne is without a doubt the best Grand Prix in the world."
Melbourne's Lord Mayor John So was quick to agree. "The parade took all the excitement of the Grand Prix track right to the people," said Mayor So. "It was a fantastic start to the 10th anniversary of the Grand Prix in Melbourne."
In a tribute to his home town, Stoddart's Minardi was decorated in Melbourne logos, with vision from the parade sent around the world. While Webber took the slow way round, his teammate, Williams test driver Antonio Pizzonia, drove a BMW Williams F1 car through the Melbourne 'circuit'.
"My job here is to have fun!" said Pizzonia. "It was nice seeing the nature and Melbourne's buildings while driving -- it was quite special."
Also earning as many cheers were local heroes Marcos Ambrose and Mark Skaife, who made the cityscape echo to the roar of Australia's own V8 Supercars.