Another beautiful Melbourne day greeted an estimated 70,300 fans who came to watch the stars of Formula One take to the Albert Park circuit for the first time this season.
Hometown heroes Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo kicked-off practice alongside World Champions Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel ended up setting the pace ahead of his teammate Mark Webber as they showed their rivals a clean set of wings.
Another German driver Nico Rosberg set the third best time in his Mercedes ahead of Finn Kimi Raikkonen and Frenchman Romain Grosjean in the Lotus cars.
It was a disappointing afternoon for Ferrari as Spaniard Fernando Alonso was only sixth and his Brazilian partner, Felipe Massa, eighth – the pair sandwiching Lewis Hamilton on his first day of action with Mercedes.
Fabian Coulthard’s flawless MSS Security V8 Supercars Challenge campaign continued, with the Holden driver winning the second 12-lap race this afternoon to add to his first success earlier today.
The only driver who proved to be of minor nuisance to Coulthard was fellow-Holden driver Craig Lowndes, but the New Zealander dispensed with him on lap nine, and was then unchallenged to the finish.
The Mazda6 Celebrity Challenge saw cricketer Brad Hodge hit his competitors for six by taking line honours more than 10 seconds ahead of actors Jonathan LaPaglia and Jared Daperis. Golden girl Anna Meares was the best placed female coming across the finish line in sixth position.
Off track, the action continued with huge crowds watching Nitro Circus Live fire up the Action Zone and James Reyne performing in Legends Lane. In another spectacular display, the RAAF F/A-18’s completed a rocketing fly-by that ensured all eyes turned skywards.
CEO of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, Andrew Westacott, was excited by the fantastic attendance and is buoyed ahead of a huge weekend.
“With bumper crowds yesterday, and strong attendance today, we are on track for a fantastic race weekend. The weather has been perfect and the city of Melbourne is looking exceptional as we prepare for the season opening race on Sunday,” said Westacott.
Gates open to the public tomorrow at 10.30am with tickets still available online and at the gates.