Alex Palmer Writes
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Wow wow wow - today's race had a bit of everything, from a very public squabble between two team-mates about not being allowed past mid-race (and it wasn't Mercedes or Red Bull), to a points finish for Haas on debut (equal to Toyota's 2002 debut) that expanded an F1infocentre patron's wallet significantly due to the long odds on offer, an Australian on the podium covered in champagne (and it wasn't Daniel), to the Iceman on fire (literally) and the most awful accident in years that Alonso miraculously walked away from. The new tyre regime, radio restrictions and, for some drivers, a few cobwebs from the off-season combined to deliver a race that bodes really well for the season ahead.

But just in case that wasn't enough, there was some considerable amusement in watching the mildly happy, slightly sloshed and/or falling down drunk (respectively) patrons climb / vault / swing / crash / bounce their way over the safety barriers to souvenier anything they could find on the track on their rush round to the podium. Braking markers, bits of Pirelli tyre, carbon-fibre body scraps, even bits of gravel disappeared as the hordes rushed past. People-watching is almost as much fun as F1 watching. I did say almost.....

And for those who might have missed it on the TV, yes Arnie was back but he didn't feature on the podium!! Roll on Bahrain - a circuit that has delivered some cracking races in the last few years.

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Melbourne's time in the F1 spotlight is always good for a few fancy rumours, and this weekend has already proven to be no exception so I think it's time for me to add a few to the pile. I understand from various social media reports that a 23rd entrant for FP2, referred to as Albert Brown Duck, made some good progress around the particularly wet parts of the track yesterday but did not post a lap time. The only other entrant not to post a lap time was Vettel, and one wonders just how strong either Duck or Vettel might be when FP3 commences around lunchtime. My money is on the duck unless this rain clears up. And I know that both Ferrari drivers are fathers now, but Kimi's seemingly new habit of wearing his race suit 3 sizes too big does seem a bit futile, I don't know that he needs room to grow into it at his age.

Rumours abound also of a secret weapon activated on Thursday evening that is sure to propel Hamilton forward to defend his championship with great gusto in 2016. Apparently a handshake was delivered by an emissary from the US to Hamilton Thursday evening although, despite a fair crowd of onlookers, has so far escaped the notice of the F1 media scrum and local paparazzi. I guess only time will tell......

But the best rumour of all was confirmed late yesterday when I came across some local and international F1 experts enjoying a Mexican feast last evening. People may have spotted the picture below doing the rounds on social media and wondered why anyone would deliberately dress their driver to look like the state fruit of Queensland. Turns out this is some sort of subliminal advertising related to plans being finalised for a bid by that great state to stage an F1 round in the tropical north. What do you think?? click here

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Melbourne Pitlane
Here we are again, the F1 world gathers in Melbourne for the first race of the season. As off-seasons go, it's been a reasonably interesting one with many rule changes debated and some (including the interesting new qualifying process) adopted, new teams and new liveries unveiled and pre-season testing completed. But some things have not changed - Mercedes' ominous form at winter testing has them odds-on favourites for another season of total domination, Hamilton continues to annoy/delight fans (depending on whether you're in the pro-Lewis or anti-Lewis camp) with his social media commentary, and the management of Red Bull continue to threaten to withdraw from the sport when they feel like it.

Having made the walk down pit lane this morning, I am really impressed with the colours on show across the garages. Fears of a drab grey / black season have been put to rest, with Haas mostly white/light gray with red feature markings, awesome flashes of burnt orange (or rocket red) along the sides of the McLaren, classy orange and bright blue on the Manor cars, the return of the distinctive yellow Renault colours and even the navy of the Red Bulls and Torro Rosso's was sparkling in this morning's bright sunshine. Although the first time the world sees the cars on TV it's likely to be raining or if we're lucky, just overcast (Melbourne looks set to turn on a charmer tomorrow with a strong cold front due around midnight and up to 20mm rain in the following 24hrs.

For those of you who have forgotten (lucky you!), podium interviews last year were conducted by Arnold Schwarzenegger - and apparently "....he's ba-aack..." in town this year for a guest appearance at a health and fitness expo. Will we see him pop up on the stage again come 6pm Sunday night? Let's get this season underway......

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Wow......looks like a fun weekend in Austin this weekend, with strong winds and torrential rain on the cards. Off the track, there has been speculation that Red Bull may do a deal with Honda this weekend ( shows you just how low Red Bulls stock has sunk ) for engines next year, and all eyes seem to be on the simmering spat between Kimi Raikkonen and Valteri Bottas after the collision in Russia that ended Bottas race. Then there's also the usual shots of drivers in cowboy hats, and the commentary around whether Hamilton can wrap up the Driver's Championship this weekend ( if he finishes 3 points ahead of Rosberg, and 9 ahead of Vettel, then that's it).

It seems the locals here are not too keen on the race, with local radio callers referring to it as an "...event for international billionaires...." and laughing about the weather forecast. Ticket sales and corporate bookings are down this year, with many of the corporate facilities from previous years missing. But the track is still the same, and the Austin hospitality remains just as warm as ever - this event is still a must-do in my opinion.

Here's an "...only in America..." to finish on. Talking with some friends here, they were looking to book an Uber car - and the Uber app gives you the option to book an Uber Helicopter. Nice (thanks Matt)!! Write comment (0 Comments)
After the most awesome race in Austin (when it finally happened) and a boring race but great atmosphere in Mexico, we head down to Brazil this weekend. Before we get to that, how about a few reflections on Austin.

Friday morning wasn't too bad, but by Friday afternoon things were definitely deteriorating. With the massive rain, lightening, and wind issues over the weekend the COTA team were very lucky there was no serious damage to property or people. Can't say the same for the cars in the unsealed parking lots though, more than one car ended up stuck in the carparks around the track. Although I believe there was only one by the end of the weekend still stranded, a number of us (yep, me too!) ended up donating all our cash on hand to the enterprising young man with the F250, snap strap and foresight to stick his mobile number on poles all round the parking lot for those of us who thought our 4WDs could do what the big trucks could and plough through the mud. And for those who are asking, yes I did make my flight. Just. Won't be doing that again!

Most of you would have seen the pictures from COTA on race weekend. Apparently, the Mexico weekend was 10times worse with a tornado touching down in an empty lot (N), so much rain that the access tunnel to the pits and the pit lane flooded, and a bolt of lightening melted a few plastic chairs in the main grandstand. Hmmm, when those signs about severe weather come up next time I may actually take them seriously!

Anyway, enough looking back, (let's face it, Mexico's race was rather forgettable) let's look forward to this weekend. Will Honda get both cars to the finish? Can Ferrari keep the Red Bulls behind them? And will Red Bull stop bad mouthing all their potential engine partners? Ok, I know, pigs might fly and all's hoping we get an entertaining race! Write comment (1 Comment)
Back to Russia this weekend. Last year the speculation was around whether the track and facilities would be ready, and there was some media concern about whether F1 should in fact go to Russia given the tensions around the shooting down of the Malaysia Airways plane over disputed territory in Ukraine. Interestingly this year a number of the media have chosen not to attend the race but them don't seem to have made any public statements around why - other than the race (and the track) are just plain boring and the media facilities were VERY basic (think no drinks or food, poor connectivity and other #first_world_problems).

It is starting to look very much like Mercedes and Hamilton might wrap up the year at the Austin round - which a number of our F1infocentre participants will be attending - or at the inaugural race in Mexico (which I understand is already a sell-out, or close to it). There are the usual rumors around, like why hasn't Ron Dennis confirmed Fernando "GP2 Engine" Alonso at McLaren next year, Red Bull's threats to pull out, speculation about the Renault-Lotus tie-up and whether Bernie might be selling his controlling interest in the F1 company (Red Bull F1 anyone??). But none of these really caught my interest - so I thought I'd make some observations of my own.

There is a group of F1 drivers / ex-drivers and a couple of others that have taken to posting pictures of themselves on a private jet going to and from the races. - Massa, Coulthard, Ricciardo and Rosberg among them. Seems like a pretty cool gang to travel with, and it definitely looks better than the alternatives (RyanAir, easiJet, etc). Hamilton's hair was already showing regrowth in Japan two weeks ago, I'm sure that by now he's going to have had to make a call about whether blonde is best or whether he'll revert to black. And last of all, what are the odds of the Honda engine making it through more than half the laps before at least one of them explodes??

Ah, formula 1 - so many surprises......

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2019 Calendar

RaceGrand PrixRace Day
1AustraliaSunday 17 March
2BahrainSunday 31 March
3ChinaSunday 14 April
4AzerbaijanSunday 28 April
5SpainSunday 12 May
6MonacoSunday 26 May
7CanadaSunday 9 June
8FranceSunday 23 June
9AustriaSunday 30 June
10Great BritainSunday 14 July
11GermanySunday 28 July
12HungarySunday 4 August
13BelgiumSunday 1 September
14ItalySunday 1 September
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19United StatesSunday 3 November
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