The Daily Spin: Alonso’s Bathurst ambition and Hamilton’s shark fears

An estimated crowd of 50,500 fans streamed through the gates as the Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019 officially started on Thursday.

Australia Supercars Championship leader Scott McLaughlin starred on track, winning two qualifying sessions on a sun-drenched Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit, while Daniel Ricciardo was a big attraction with fans.

The home favourite was in high demand as he walked down the iconic Melbourne Walk, taking selfies and giving autographs to scores of lucky fans.

Read on for our wrap of the wacky, wonderful and intriguing from day one in Melbourne …

Alonso to Bathurst?

Fernando Alonso has always proved popular with Formula 1® fans and although he is not racing in the class for McLaren in 2019, he might be in a car on Australian soil sooner than you think.

The Spaniard has turned his hand to some of motorsport’s biggest events in recent years, trying his luck in the Indianapolis 500, Le Mans 24 Hours and Daytona 24 Hours.

And Zak Brown – executive director of McLaren F1 and Walkinshaw Andretti United co-owner – said Alonso is “very interested” in racing in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

“He remains very interested in Bathurst. He wants to go and win all the big races and he considers Bathurst to be one of those,” Brown was quoted as saying on the Supercars website.

“He considers Bathurst to be a major sporting event … I don’t think you’ll see him in 2019 but I wouldn’t rule him out for the future.”

Stat’s amazing

Supercars star McLaughlin has competed in two races and battled for pole position on four occasions in 2019.
His win record? 100 per cent. 

It is still early days but the Kiwi looks in ominous touch as he looks to defend his crown.

Picture of the day

 

Fans lined the iconic Melbourne Walk or visited F1 Central to get selfies and autographs from their idols, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel proving particularly popular on Thursday.

They said what?

“Yeah, I’ve done some surfing. I wanted to do it here (Australia) but I couldn’t find a netted area to go. 

“I just can’t go where the sharks are and every Australian I meet - they’re like ‘nah, nah you’ll be alright’ … I don’t know how to do the accent … ‘if a shark comes up to you, punch it in the face!’”

McLaren star Lewis Hamilton was asked about what he got up to in the off-season with amusing consequences.

Action Replay

Daniel Ricciardo prepared for Friday’s free practice sessions by jumping behind the wheel of a … Supercar.

And check out how much he loved it!

Spotted …

After a huge Glamour on the Grid event on Wednesday night saw celebrities like Anthony Callea, Tim Campbell, Sam Groth in attendance, a sporting star attended the track on Thursday.

Scotty James was the man, the three-time world champion and Winter Olympics bronze medallist – who was also a flag bearer for Australia at the 2018 Winter Games – the first of many celebrities to attend on-track action throughout the weekend.

On the card

Formula 1® cars hit the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit track for the first time this year on Friday in two free practice sessions (12pm and 4pm).

The first race of the Beaurepaires Supercars Melbourne 400 (5:55pm) also takes place, with McLaughlin a red-hot favourite to continue his run of form.

And there are also races in the BP Ultimate Australian GT (10:15am), Australian Formula 4 Championship (10:55am) and Porsche Carrera Cup (2:55pm)

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