Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Amy gets the red carpet treatment in Melbourne - Attending the Australian launch of the GREAT Britain campaign

Published by Amy Fulton

Earlier this week my friend Kait (who interviewed me for Onya Magazine) asked if I was free on Friday night to attend an event with her. She wasn't sure what it was but she knew it related to motorsport, and was probably smart enough to know that if she went to anything related to F1 without me I may never speak to her again. I compared the 7pm start to the times of free practice, and with one hour to get to Crown Casino after FP2 my name was added to the guest list.

Pillow talk

Tonight, Kait and I walked the red carpet at the Australian launch of the GREAT Britain campaign. I've never been asked to pose for a photo on a red carpet before and I'd be surprised if it happens again. The GREAT campaign is running internationally, focusing on 12 areas of UK excellence. Luckily for me the Melbourne event was focused around British innovation, particularly British Motorsport.

At one end of the room was a simulator from that great British team, Ferrari. I am possibly the worst person ever to play a racing game but I was not going to turn down my chance to have a go in a properly sized F1 car. I know F1 drivers tend to be short but to reach the pedals I had to have two pillows propped behind me. No one else I saw needed these, but then again they were all men. I had a very cool steering wheel and a very cool view of the Albert Park track, with three laps ahead of me.

Are you sitting comfortably?
Are you sitting comfortably?Credit: Amy Fulton

Even though I know this track like the back of my hand the first lap consisted of me being surprised by lots of the corners and running straight into the wall. By the second lap I had remembered to brake with my left foot instead of my right and by the third I remembered to keep an eye out for the braking markers. Instead of going off at almost every corner I went off only at the second last, setting a best time of 2.17. I think Felipe's seat is not going to be under threat from me anytime soon.

A whiter shade of pale
A whiter shade of paleCredit: Amy Fulton

Made of honour

Shortly after my domination of Albert Park the launch event was started by the British High Commissioner to Australia, Paul Madden. He introduced the UK Minister of Sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson, who bought out the people I'd been waiting to see.

The F1 guests of honour were Mercedes CEO Nick Fry, Lotus Technical Director James Allison, Williams CEO Alex Burns and former World Champions Damon Hill and Jackie Stewart. They talked about the importance of F1 to Britain and Britain to F1. The examples that I am borrowing from this Twitter account are that every year the motorsport industry contributes more than 6 billion pounds to the UK economy and that there won't be any car on the grid on Sunday without a part made in Britain. They also talked about the importance of Melbourne holding on to its Grand Prix, Sir Jackie especially said some fantastic words, all of which I have forgotten. Kait wrote them down so she could add them to her write up which is why she's the journalist and I'm not.

Internet legend meets real life legend
Internet legend meets real life legendCredit: Amy Fulton

Although there were five speakers there were plenty more important F1 people in the crowd who all assembled for a photo. I also grabbed photos with the representatives of my two favourite teams.

The particularly lovely Riad Asmat
The particularly lovely Riad AsmatCredit: Amy Fulton
The tallest man in F1, probably
The tallest man in F1, probablyCredit: Amy Fulton

Third driver lucky

It's a long way out of my comfort zone to interrupt people when they are in conversations with people who look far more important than me but I learned my method is to let someone else do it first then dive in after them. Caterham's Riad Asmat in particular was lovely and I used the opportunity to thank him for his team's hospitality in South Korea last year. After a few free glasses of bubbly Kait and I also grabbed a photo with Hamish and Andy, the only non F1 related celebrities we could see!

Comedy central!
Comedy central!Credit: Amy Fulton

The only currentish driver I saw was Jérôme D'Ambrosio who turned up for a few photos towards the end of the evening. I had completely forgotten that he is the third driver for Lotus this year so it was a nice way to jog my memory.

Someone forgot their team trousers
Someone forgot their team trousersCredit: Amy Fulton

I'd like to thank Kait for inviting me to attend with her because it was an incredible experience and it has made me even more excited about heading to London later this year to check out more of GREAT Britain for myself!