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  • F1 diary 2012 (part 1): Australia: In the tropical jumbo to Down Under

F1 diary 2012 (part 1): Australia: In the tropical jumbo to Down Under

F1 diary 2012 (part 1): Australia
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U nd the marmot greets every day. On March 12th, the Formula 1 season started. I have to admit that the 28-hour wood class trip on my first trip to Melbourne three years and 43 races earlier was a tad bigger. After eleven exhausting days of testing in Spain, the season could have waited a little longer.

Airbus A380 scores against Boeing 747

At the airport in Frankfurt there was something like excited anticipation, which was mainly due to the means of transport. In addition to the technology of Formula 1 cars, I've always had a passion for all kinds of aircraft. I was therefore particularly excited about the first trip in the Airbus A380. But in my window seat on the lower deck, exactly above the huge wing, neither the space nor the visibility conditions were particularly impressive.

I only became aware of the advantages of the modern giant bird after a stopover in Singapore. From the Lufthansa A380 we went on with an old Singapore Airlines Boeing 747, which was already well past its prime. The passengers waited for the start in the cabin with sweaty sauna temperatures. The master promised in a shaky voice that the defective air conditioning system should work normally again when the turbines were started. But it didn't.

At cruising altitude, the cabin climate was then switched from tropics to arctic within a few minutes. That matched the meager entertainment program. Instead of a screen, economy passengers in the old jumbo only had the back of the chair in front of their noses. The tattered on-board magazine offered the only opportunity for entertainment. It said that a few weeks later the airline was solemnly planning to take all 747s out of service and replace them with A380s. Bad timing.

So there was nothing else to do but hang out the flight. When I landed shortly before eight in the morning, my internal clock was still somewhere different from Melbourne. The shuttle bus took us downtown to the main train station, then walked to the hotel and took a shower. Fortunately, my room was ready to move into before the official check-in time. I experienced it differently in Melbourne.

Through the military zone into the paddock

Only a few minutes later I was already sitting in theTaxi. The first way at the start of the season traditionally leads to the Parkview Hotel in the St. Kilda district. As always, the FIA ​​had set up its accreditation body here, where you can get the coveted red plastic cards. They guarantee free entry to the paddock all year round and of course had to be tried out directly. So, together with auto motor und sport colleague Michael Schmidt, I set out on the short walk through Albert Park towards the race track.

At first, however, there was no racing mood on the large green spaces. Instead of fast cars, we were greeted by army vehicles of all kinds. The Australian military used tanks, armed SUVs and troop transports to recruit new recruits. For this purpose, a perfectly camouflaged bivouac was set up just a few meters from the paddock, from which one could have planned an invasion of New Zealand without any problems.

After we had crossed the combat zone, the paddock was already waiting for us. In the press center, we took our usual seats in the last row near the window. The first official way of the day then led into the pit lane. The big question was who had important updates after the tests. But on Wednesday the teams were silent. Large partitions blocked the view into the garages. If only you had a tank now to flatten the privacy screen. A small howitzer would have done it too.

With Vettel and Webber at cricket on the beach

In the paddock there were already some people to talk to in the team pavilions. So the first stories and pictures from Melbourne trickled into the network before the German sunrise. In the afternoon the first official appointment was waiting: Red Bull had invited to a press happening in a beach bar on Melbourne's beach. After Webber and Vettel answered the journalists' questions, there was a cricket session with an Australian professional. A huge cluster of fans, TV teams and photographers quickly formed. Some involuntarily ended up in the water. I just wanted to end up in my bed now. Or sleep on the beach.

The next morning started early. Pirelli hosted a small breakfast at 7.30 a.m. at which sports director Paul Hembery had the latest results of the winter test analyzes and information about the tires for the new season ready. In addition to the British's interesting assessments, the visit was particularly worthwhile because of the location. The impressive view of downtown Melbourne from the 55th floor of an office building made up for getting up early.

First win of the season in the Mercedes quiz

From the city center, it went straight back to Melbourne Beach. Here Mercedes celebrated its official season kick-off, where the drivers and those responsible were available to answer questions. Traditionally, a small Formula 1 quiz is also part of theEntertainment program in which our table prevailed against our English colleagues and won the day. As a prize there was a mini replica of an F1 steering wheel from Mercedes.

After the media lunch, we went straight to the paddock, where further press rounds were scheduled. Before the first day of training there were tons of exciting stories. Will HRT and Marussia make the 107 percent hurdle? Who is faster: Red Bull or McLaren? How bad is Ferrari really after the sobering winter tests? And what trick is Mercedes hiding in the rear wing?

Mercedes eats the tires in the race

Friday gave the first clues. After qualifying on Saturday we had all the answers. Marussia was fast enough to race, but HRT wasn't. McLaren started from row one, Red Bull only from row three. And Ferrari clearly missed the top ten.

Only the Mercedes trick could not be deciphered for a long time. Only a picture from Russel Batchelor, our xpb photographer, provided the resolution. He caught the Silver Arrow with its rear wing flap up, behind which an air inlet in the end plate emerged. Anyone who combined cleverly quickly realized that the engineers were directing the introduced flow across the car to the front wing and thus reducing the aerodynamic drag on the straight.

The system seemed to be working well. Schumacher started from fourth place, Rosberg from seven. But the hopes of the Silver Arrow fans were disappointed in the race. The car ate the tires and both drivers remained without points. Jenson Button secured the victory. Sebastian Vettel was able to break up the McLaren duo at the top thanks to a bit of luck with the safety car and celebrate second place Sightseeing in Sydney

After crossing the finish line, a race against time began for us. Because of the late start of the race, the nights on Sundays in Melbourne are traditionally short. In addition to the picture galleries, reports and analyzes, the program for Monday also had to be prepared. It wasn't until half past two in the morning that we finally went back to the hotel, where we continued to work.

This year we voluntarily made ourselves a little more stressful. Instead of flying straight to Malaysia, my colleague Schmidt and I decided to spend another day in Sydney. The little detour with the low-cost airline was worth it. In addition to the famous opera and the harbor, Sydney has a lot of beautiful things to offer.

I decided to take the ferry to the Manly Peninsula. On my tour of beaches and nature parks, I unfortunately forgot to wear sun protection. And so the next day I got on the plane to Kuala Lumpur with a slightly red pear. Fortunately, this time Singapore Airlines sent an A380 and not oneTropical jumbo.


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