New sounds, new engines and a new era of racing drew a fantastic crowd of an estimated 71,000 to the see the Formula One cars hit the track for the first time in 2014. Pre-race favourites Mercedes AMG Petronas, lived up to the hype finishing the day on top, with Lewis Hamilton recording the fastest lap ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg.
Perfect weather set the scene for a dramatic day of practice, as the new era of turbo-charged hybrid 1.6-litre V6 engines saw plenty of action both in and out of the pits. Hamilton’s performance in the second practice was all the more impressive given he was unable to complete a lap in the first practice session following a mechanical failure.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo put in a strong showing for Infiniti Red Bull Racing, coming in sixth position, two spots behind teammate and reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel. The day wasn’t as positive for the Caterham F1 Team who were unable to register a time across both practice sessions.
In earlier racing, the MSS Security V8 Supercars Challenge revved up the crowd in two separate races, with Shane Van Gisbergen taking the double, leading Team Red Bull’s Jamie Whincup in the first race and Craig Lowndes in race two.
Former Australian Socceroo Brett Emerton showed his speed isn’t confined to a soccer field, finishing first in the qualifying stages of the Mazda3 Celebrity Challenge race. Robbie McEwen and Charlie Boorman rounded out the top three, setting up two fantastic races on Saturday and Sunday.
Off the track the action continued on from yesterday, with skateboarding legend Tony Hawk wowing onlookers with his “Tony Hawk and Friends Vert Jam” sessions.
The Sounds on the Circuit live music stage featured Australian acts Chris Doheny, Johnny Wonderpants and Ross Wilson, who had the crowd up and dancing. Bernard Fanning headlines the music line-up for tomorrow, along with Megan Washington and Jason Singh.
Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott was full of praise for the Formula One drivers, and was excited by the prospect of a spectacular weekend of racing.
“There was some brilliant action throughout the day, and seeing the brand new turbo engines was very exciting. The racing will be ramping up tomorrow as all drivers strive to get pole position and set themselves up for a massive day on Sunday,” Westacott said.
“The new era of racing has kicked off, and with plenty of other action both on and off the track this weekend, I encourage race fans to come down and join the excitement at the spectacular Albert Park circuit.”
General Admission is free for children 12 years and under provided the child is accompanied by a paying adult ticket holder at the 2014 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix .