Formula One fans mourn loss of grand prix for second year

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Formula One fans are mourning the loss of yet another Australian Grand Prix as a result of the pandemic, and some are worried the future of the event in Melbourne might be in jeopardy.

F1 fan Dan Thompson said the cancellation was understandable.Credit:Joe Armao

Freelance motorsport photographer and Formula One superfan Dan Thompson, who has attended the event since he was 14, wasn’t surprised by the announcement.

“All of the sacrifices everyone’s had to make over lockdown, it feels a bit egregious to then have the circus come in and sort of go by a different set of rules than we have to,” he said.

Victorian Sports and Tourism Minister Martin Pakula confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that the race, scheduled for November, had been cancelled. Mr Pakula also said the Moto GP motorbike event on Phillip Island would not go ahead.

Having spent the past six years as a photographer at the grand prix, Mr Thompson said the decision was understandable.

“It may hurt its viability in the future, maybe the public opinion may be a bit soured for it as well,” he said. “It almost feels like it might just get to the stage … where [the organisers] think maybe it’s easier to go somewhere else.”

Ferrari Club Australia president Tony Demarco said members came to Melbourne from across the country for the weekend and would be concerned about missing the grand prix for another year.

“It’s very disappointing to all our club members,” he said. “People come from all over Australia, but it’s one of those things that we have to put on hold, because we have to comply with what the government wants to do.”

The club is known for its Ferrari drive down Lygon Street, a tradition it sometimes still honours. Mr Demarco said the club’s grand prix-associated events often had up to 200 fans in attendance.

Albert Park on Tuesday after the announcement of the cancellation.Credit:Jason South

Secondary school teacher Pauline Volpe said she was devastated by the decision to cancel the grand prix.

“A lot of people can’t relate … they just think it’s cars going around a track,” she said.

“[But] there’s something that goes through the body … I can’t explain the excitement; it’s like when a little kid sees a favourite toy.

“I haven’t had [that feeling] for such a long time, and I’m going to miss out again.”

Ms Volpe said she saw the decision coming, especially given the mandatory quarantine measures in place for international arrivals.

“The number of people from overseas that are involved … you’ve got 20 people working on the car at once. That’s just to change the tyres.”

Peter Goad, president of the Save Albert Park group which has campaigned against the race for many years, was pleased the grand prix would not run for another year, saying the government should use the opportunity presented by the pandemic to negotiate its way out of the contract.

“If the government is being realistic and sensible, it would have it cancelled about six months go,” he said.

Mr Goad, who lives just 500 metres from the track in Middle Park, said the noise pollution, the damage the event did to parkland and the money the government put into it annually should mean it would be permanently left off Melbourne’s sporting calendar.

“If the government was being sensible, it would be trying to get out of its contract because it wastes a lot of money which could be put to better use,” he said.

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