It’s that time of year again when the world’s fastest sport kicks into gear for another season of high-octane spectacle. Thanks to the good folks at Honda, we were there for Friday’s practice day at Melbourne’s Albert Park – the first official event of the 2017 F1 season and the start of a new dawn for the sport.
We were invited to enjoy proceedings from the luxurious Honda McLaren suite, situated directly above the pit lane and team garage, so about as close to the action as you can get without donning a racing suit and getting behind the wheel yourself. Throw in a direct camera feed to the McLaren Honda garage and dedicated commentary and you end up feeling like part of the team.
It’s a unique vantage point from which to enjoy one of the biggest events on the sporting calendar, like being invited into the Australian cricket team’s dressing room during an Ashes test or watching the Wimbledon final from the umpire’s chair. Between sessions, we were taken down for the Pit Lane Walk – ground zero of all things F1 – and got up and personal with the new rides of Messrs Alonso and Vandoorne in the McLaren Honda garage.
Back in the suite and a couple of champagnes later and it’s time for the afternoon practice session. If you thought pit stops were impressive on TV, they’re even more mind-blowing in person – the team swarming over the car like perfectly-coordinated worker bees – and over in the blink of an eye.
Above all, it gives you a greater appreciation for the level of precision and planning that underpins every aspect of Formula 1. Behind the glitz and glamour is a well-oiled machine made up of individuals driven by a desire to push human ingenuity to its limits – all in the name of sport.