Race-offs, Celebs and Feedback from Race Day 1 of 2012

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It's a celebrity jungle in Melbourne, with the paddock rammed with stunts, models, actors and good old rock n'roll. Take your pick before the main action got underway at Albert Park for the first race of the year.

The late start time in Melbourne makes race day last forever. Early morning passenger rides by a two-seater Formula One car wake up people staying within a two-mile vicinity of Albert Park – which is most of the F1 paddock – and you then have to wait hours for the serious business to begin.

But the lull before the storm gives the great and the good of Australia a chance to wander the F1 paddock, and there are plenty of celebs out and about.

Rock star Lenny Kravitz is back for his second visit of the weekend to Albert Park; model Kate Peck poses seductively in her role as official ambassador to the Australian Grand Prix; Harry O’Brien – a Brazilian Aussie Rules Footballer – hooks up with Bruno Senna; soccer player Harry Kewell hangs out in the Paddock Club, as does American actor Aaron Eckhart, who’s in Melbourne filming ‘I, Frankenstein’.

And that’s not all! But the other celebs have to work a bit harder for their lunch. Motocross-Stuntfahrer, Robbie Maddison, gewinnt das Red Bull Rennen, das aus einem Fünf-Runden-Sprint in Tourenwagen bestand. Doch sein Rennen war ereignisreich und schmerzvoll. When he’s hit from behind by Aussie V8 driver Rick Kelly, he feels a sharp pain in his shoulder.

“I thought doing four wheels would be a bit safer than doing two wheels,” says Robbie afterwards. “But when one of the boys hit me, my shoulder dislocated real quick and then went back in.” Ouch!

David Coulthard is another celeb to feature in the Race-Off and he has an unusual mid-race conversation. “My mother called me on my mobile when I was on the way around and I had to tell her I was a bit busy,” he says.

After all of the build-up, the big-hitters take to the grid at 4.30pm local time. Sechs Weltmeister bereiten sich auf das Rennen vor, während sich eine handvoll früherer Weltmeister sich auf ein Wortduell vorbereiten. Sir Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Alan Jones and Damon Hill give their opinions, and perhaps Lauda sums up the occasion best.

“The start of the F1 season is always more exciting than anywhere else,” he says. “Everyone thinks they’ve designed a winner before we get to Melbourne, but it’s only when we get there that we find out the truth.”

Fifty eight laps later Jenson Button comes home a dominant winner, with the usual mix of frustration and happiness behind. Noch einer, der sich nach dem Rennen erleichtert zeigt, ist Fernando Alonso. He salvages fifth place in his Ferrari after starting 12th. “From here we can build,” he says.

For now, though, it’s time to head to the Yarra River in downtown Melbourne for the official F1 Rocks post-race party. DJs Mr Hudson and Havana Brown: bring ’em on!

Then on to Malaysia.