Eighty thousand, six hundred die-hard fans attended Soggy Saturday at Albert Park for the Rolex Australian Grand Prix. However, the spectators were not just rained on during an aborted F1 qualifying session, they were treated to near monsoon-like conditions.
After the first (start-delayed) qualifying session in the afternoon, FIA F1 race director, safety delegate and permanent starter, Charlie Whiting, in consultation with the CAMS National Track Safety Committee, postponed Q2 and Q3 until Sunday morning at 9am.
All the support groups will run abbreviated Sunday races, and the schedule has been rearranged to accommodate the F1 circus, so it will retain its full qualifying as well as the other planned events, such as the 2013 drivers' class photo.
For those covering the event, they had their own trials and tribulations to endure. The power went out in the TV compound and International Media Centre, causing the F1 feed to go dark all over the world. And try being a journalist or photographer trying to produce real-time work with nothing but carrier pigeons.
The highlight reel, showing the replay of the F1 spins, was entertaining, after the fact. Even the F1 medical car was caught sliding around the last corner.
Rain had been forecast for both Saturday and Sunday, but no one expected the strength with which this storm hit. After weeks and weeks of drought, Melbourne was deluged. Melbourne has often been said to have all four seasons in one day. Who knows what Sunday will bring?
Meanwhile, back at the racing... Earlier in the day, it rained on and off, but not with much force. The sun was out for the aerial displays provided by the RAAF Roulettes, and it was only drippy for the ear-splitting F/A18 jets. The third and final F1 practice started out dry, went wet, and then dried enough to confound the teams with tyre selection – drys, wets and intermediates, sometimes in that order.
Fastest in FP3 was Romain Grosjean (Lotus F1 Team), followed by the two Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.
by Lynne Huntting