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Grand Prix Diary Australia 2016: Let the Games Begin!

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Grand Prix Diary Australia 2016
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E s is the same every year. As soon as the plane has landed in Melbourne, one is ready for vacation again. The stress of the two weeks of testing in Barcelona is still in your bones. Just like the exhausting flight halfway around the world. And the sight of the many good-humored backpackers in the immigration queue can't lift my spirits either.

Tired and hungry, I shuffle through the labyrinth of barrier tapes with my laptop trolley. The swimming trunks had to stay at home again. Instead, I'm desperately trying to get the international SIM card going in my mobile hotspot. After all, you have to know what happened in the Formula 1 world while you were in the air for 26 hours. But no matter what I change in the settings - the little box just doesn't want to connect to the Internet. As the provider will inform me later, someone forgot to enter an activation date when ordering the card.

Colleague Schmidt does not know such problems. He's probably the only reporter in the paddock who doesn't have a cell phone. He doesn't have to worry about SIM cards that have not been activated. Not even with the three mailbox messages that flash again on my display shortly after landing. When thinking that this season with 21 races will be longer than ever before, decide without further ado to simply stay offline until the next morning.

12 hours of sleep later, colleague Lennart Wermke from der is waiting on Wednesday Bild newspaper in the hotel lobby on me. While he hacks one WhatsApp message after the other into his cell phone at breathtaking speed, he tells me about his morning jogging session on the beach promenade. He's one of those hyperactive people who always have to do 5 things at the same time. Maybe this is just a special way of dealing with frustration for the suffering Hannover 96 fan.

I get stressed just by watching him. But the leisurely pace of the old Melbourne tram on the way to the accreditation body brings the pulse down again. I'm slowly starting to enjoy the summer temperatures. And when you see the many palm trees, you even feel like you're on holiday. The jetlag and the exhausting Formula 1 program suddenly don't seem that bad anymore.

Picking up the paddock card worksfaster than expected. While the TV colleagues wait in line for ages, nothing is going on at the counter with the passports for the writing guild. Few newspapers and magazines still afford the luxury of sending reporters halfway around the world to get first-hand information.

Everything is as usual in the press room. As usual, our loyal companion Roger Benoit from Schweizer Blick has reserved the seats in the penultimate row - with the best view of the pit lane and the monitors. Also colleague Schmidt already on me. Before his 38th Formula 1 season, he cleverly traveled down under a few days earlier to meet friends in Sydney and to acclimatize. Note to myself: I have to do it like that next year too.

Schmiddi is already fully in Formula 1 mode again and complains that nobody has yet to be found in the paddock who dictates a story to him in his notepad . “There are no stories,” he complains of his suffering. I do not care. My stories are waiting in the pit lane. After the game of hide and seek during the test drives, the garages are no longer locked. At least not all of them. I know that many of our readers are eagerly awaiting the Melbourne Wednesday gallery. Finally there are detailed photos of the still half-naked cars.

The technology, however, interests colleague Wermke from the Bild-Zeitung little. For the tabloid department, the question of what name Sebastian Vettel will christen his 2016 Ferrari is more important. Usually, the voting always takes place on Wednesday evening before the Australian Grand Prix in 'Vlados Steakhouse'. We also traditionally celebrate the start of the new season with a dinner in the iconic meat temple. But this time there was nothing to be seen from Vettel.

As we learned the next day, the meeting with the mechanics was, for once, held a day earlier. The decision should actually remain a secret. Ferrari apparently did not think it appropriate that Vettel gave his red goddess new names. But one of the Italian screwdrivers accidentally revealed on his Facebook page that Vettel's SF16-T is called like the Italian pizza without anything - Margherita. With that the secret was out and the tabloids were happy.

The new Renault paintwork, however, wasn't a big secret. Even during the test drives, word got around in the paddock that the newly formed works team will be completely in yellow in 2016. Looking through the slits in the partitions in front of the garage, a few hours before the ceremonial unveiling, one could see that it was a dull yellow. Only the unusual presentation of the show car on a surfboard caused a few astonished looks at the ceremony in the early evening.

Even Red Bull couldn't surprise us a day later. The team had mysteriously to announceinvited to a new partnership. But long before it was leaked that it was a cooperation with Aston Martin. However, the level of confidentiality was not that high. Otherwise the drivers would not have been chauffeured to the track in British sports cars on Thursday. It wasn't actually necessary that the new Aston Martin advertising logos on the F1 racer were painstakingly masked during the technical inspection.

The biggest excitement of the first race weekend from a sporting point of view was the introduction of the new KO - Qualifications. I can reveal that my colleague Schmidt didn't think the idea was so bad when it was presented. But after the first practical run, it was clear: it wasn't working. The command posts sent their drivers out on the track at the wrong time. Real tension didn't want to arise. In particular, the lack of a showdown at the end of Q3 caused an outcry among the fans.

When the clock ran out on the track in the final minutes of qualifying without a car, there was a great whistling concert from the main stand opposite the pits that could be heard in the press center. On Saturday evening the team bosses apologized for the worsening of the rules. In a meeting held at short notice on the Sunday before the race, those responsible decided to return to the old format at the second race in Bahrain. It should turn out differently. But we didn't know that back then.

In the race, the qualifying disaster was quickly forgotten. When Fernando Alonso flew upside down through the gravel bed in his McLaren, we journalists held our breath in the press room. Fortunately, the Spaniard was uninjured, except for a cracked rib. Because our photographers quickly delivered spectacular pictures of the take-off, I decided to create an accident gallery while the race was still in progress and to collect the first information in a story. Fortunately, Charlie Whiting decided to stop the Grand Prix for a few minutes.

The accident also determined the tactics. In contrast to the competition, Romain Grosjean did not change tires when the safety car came out, but only during the break. The stop without any loss of time pushed him up to 6th place. Some suspected a brilliant poker game from strategy expert Ruth Buscombe, who is now in the service of Sauber. But team boss Guenther Steiner told me after the race that it was just luck. Team owner Gene Haas didn't care. Just like the many American F1 fans who gave free rein to their joy on social networks.

At Ferrari, the strategy was not so lucky. Sebastian Vettel had taken the lead past the Silver Arrows at the start, but had to be satisfied with third place with a three-stop tactic. Mercedes only decided to change tires twice. That brought the star drivers past the Ferrari again. RadiantIn the end, the winner was Nico Rosberg, who had won the team-internal duel with the better start.

We couldn't complain about a lack of good stories about the race. Because Melbourne doesn't start until 4 p.m., we didn't get off the track until well after midnight. But on Monday we had to get up early again. Because my dear colleague spent a few relaxing days in Australia after the race, we had to shoot our popular video format 'Formula Schmidt' on site.

We decided on one as the location Bench on the beach at St. Kilda. Colleague Wermke from the Bild newspaper kindly supported us as a camera child while we analyzed the most important topics of the race again in a fast run. If you look closely in the video, you will also see colleague Benoit vom Schweizer Blick, who allowed himself a joke to wander through the picture in the background.

If we had only talked a few minutes longer, Fernando Alonso would also involuntarily join the supporting actor become. We could hardly believe our eyes when the crash pilot from the previous day crept slightly limping along the beach promenade. Our tabloid colleagues took photos of the bandaged knee directly. Reporter Benoit even elicited from the Spaniard that he had suffered from rib pain during the night.

It won't be that bad, I thought. At the time, I would not have thought it possible that the two-time world champion would have to watch the following race in Bahrain. In the afternoon, after less than a week at the other end of the world, we were back on the plane to Germany. The first race of the longest season of all time was over.

In the gallery we show you a few more pictures of the action behind the scenes at the Australian GP.

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