Bumper crowds as Melbourne comes alive for Grand Prix

08 April 2022

More than 350,000 fans are expected to flock to Albert Park this weekend as the Formula 1® Heineken® Australian Grand Prix roars back into Melbourne.

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Both Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race have sold out and there’s even suggestions that the event could break its all-time attendance record of 401,000 set back in 1996, the first year the race was staged at Albert Park.

More than 300 guests attended the Victorian Chamber’s annual Grand Prix breakfast at the newly upgraded Albert Park track this morning. Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott said his team had their “belief back” after the event was cancelled the last two years because of COVID.

“We’re all very emotional. All board members, all staff, our 600 suppliers – there’s 12,000 to 14,000 staff working across this,” he said.

“Anyone who works in the fantastic ecosystem that is the major events industry in Melbourne and Victoria loves doing things for the State; they love the buzz, the drive, the adrenaline of what major events do. This is our eye to the world. This and the tennis is what puts us on the map globally."

Asked for what he wanted to see this weekend, he said: “What I want to see is everyone having a ball… we do this better than any other event around the world on the Formula One calendar.

Mr Westacott also spoke positively about the crowd numbers and noted the increase in female attendance with the Netflix series Drive to Survive credited for the surging popularity in the sport in recent years.

“The simple facts show that in the previous years we’ve had 75 per cent male and 25 per cent female [ticket] purchase. This year, the facts are showing that there’s a 40 per cent female purchase,” he said.

Fellow guest speaker, formula one champion turned commentator David Coulthard MBE, echoed Mr Westacott’s sentiment and praised Melbourne’s event. Coulthard won the race in 1997 and 2003.

“It’s a brilliant race, there’s no question about it, “ he said. “If you look at the countries we travel to… the drivers love the M’s. They love coming to Melbourne, they love coming to Monaco because it’s a crazy challenge and they love going to Montreal because it’s a little bit like Melbourne, you’re a city that comes alive for the Grand Prix.

“We definitely love coming here. It was incredible when it was the season opener, clearly COVID played its part… but it’s still fantastic to be here. The world is watching.”

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