Green Notebook from various taxis

Producing the GP+ e-magazine was a little slower than usual on what the Australians call “Rice Dye” in Melbourne. The Grand Prix had been long, complicated and controversial. The FIA Stewards were still adjudicating until after 11pm, by which time all the stars of the show were on planes, flying through the night towards Europe.

At just after one in the morning, I emerged from the Media Centre and walked through a dark and almost deserted Albert Park. Even the drunks had gone home. The trams had long ago stopped running and it was time to seek out a cab.

In such circumstances, it is entirely normal to encounter those of a larcenous nature. It is depressing that humans are so predicable, but supply and demand means one can rip off those in need. The normal fare to get into town from Albert Park is $20, but the driver wanted $30. I’ve been asked for more than that in the past and have been known to reply with words as colourful as any rainbow. But this was reasonable robbery, if there is such a thing.

But it comes at a cost to the driver as I roll out a well-used discourse about how taxi drivers are really diplomats and vitally important for a country because they are often the first people that visitors encounter, and it sets the tone for the visit. If people feel exploited, it impacts on their view of the city. Did the driver know, for example, that the Economist Intelligence Unit publishes a Global Livability Ranking, which calculates which cities are the nicest. From 2011 to 2017 Melbourne won this prize every year. In 2018 and 2019 it was beaten by Vienna. In 2021 it had dropped to eighth in the rankings (behind even Perth and Adelaide) and in 2022 it was down another place to ninth.

I would not have written this were it not for that cab driver…

Once the sermon was over, there was still much to be done and I was back at work, with only the minibar to talk to. In the end, I ruffled the bedding so that the cleaning lady had something to do and would not wonder what kind of a weirdo pays for a room and then does not sleep in it. By the late morning, it was all finally done and the words had been sent out into the digital world. A nap would have been nice, but it was time to check out, so a brisk walk helped to re-oxygenate the blood.

I cannot remember how it started, but for more than a decade there has been a Monday lunch after each Australian Grand Prix, with a bunch of adventurers and cut-throats who gather at the usual venue and chat about life, love, red flags and cars of all sorts. It is what we like to do and Australian fish stocks are depleted, particularly Moreton Bay Bugs (right). The wine cellar also gets a little more empty space.

It is usually a long and agreeable lunch and then, when the light begins to fade towards evening, we go our separate ways. I wandered around for a while, trying to kill time, and then decided to try my luck at the airport and see if I could get through into the lounge and while away the hours there. With only hand luggage this is often possible, although the security people take your pots of Vegemite away because they fear they might explode in mid-air. Once air-side you can buy more (at twice the normal price) but they put them in special sealed bags which prove it is a non-explosive kind of Vegemite.

All this was ahead of me when I found a cab and set off for Tullamarine. I fell quickly asleep and the next thing I knew we were at the airport, the taxi driver was asking for $80. This was normal. I reached for my wallet. Then something weird happened. It didn’t feel like my wallet and I soon discovered that I had two wallets, the second belonging  to one of my lunch companions, which I had obviously pocketed by mistake. Oh well, I thought, he will want it enough to come to the airport and collect it. So I rang my mate.

“You in a panic?” I said.

Yes, he replied. He was having a horrible time. He’d been freaking out about the missing wallet, retracing his steps and was back at the restaurant to have a look there. And he had then discovered that he had a puncture! You couldn’t make this stuff up.

So, with time on my hands and too many wallets I volunteered to go back to town and then go back to the airport again, although he promised to drive me back if the automobile club people were quick. A couple of hours later I was back in the airport lounge, with all wallets back in the right pockets and having had a glass of Chardonnay and a laugh about travelling. When you travel the world, it is inevitable that things will go wrong, but it’s the screw-ups that make it fun.

The Grand Prix had been full of screw-ups… which ended up with a very bizarre statistic, being the first time in the history of the sport that the start/finish line was used for both purposes at the same moment. This sort of fact might delight the grumpy old men who once made up the majority of F1 viewers, but it no doubt confused the Drive-to-Survive newbies, of which there are plenty. There is a down side to F1’s success at the moment because the new fans are not all educated in the ways of the sport. Numerically, the Grand Prix was a huge success with a four-day  crowd figure of 444,631. This smashed  last year’s record of 419,114, previously the highest number since the first event in 1996, which drew a crowd of 401,000.

But the complex nature of the incidents and red flags confused people who did not know the rules (and quite a few who did) and their enthusiasm led them to appear in several places behind the barriers, but inside the safety cordons that exists between the safety fences and the spectator areas. Elsewhere they climbed the debris fences to watch the cars and wave at the drivers, while several people went through a gap in the safety fencing on to the grass at the edge of the track, although they  appeared  from TV footage to have been called back again by track security before they triggered a general invasion – before the cars came through for the last time, as the chequered flag was being waved. Further round the track there were reports of people on the circuit as the cars completed their slow down laps and returned to the pits.  This is dangerous stuff although it happens occasionally. In Brazil last year there was something smaller but similar but no-one did anything. This time the Stewards summoned a representative from the Australian Grand Prix Corporation for a spanking. The Melbourne organiser is one of the best and actually exports this expertise to other places, to help new promoters get it right (for a financial consideration, you understand). They appeared to be so well-organised that one got the impression that there had been a committee meeting at some point to think through a contingency plan if there was a track invasion. That’s not unlikely as there was a similar but worse interlude back in 2017. Their response for the stewards was logical and well-structured and made life a little easier for the officials.

The problem with having new fans is that people do not know what happens when errant people are hit by an F1 car at speed. Suffice to say, it is not pretty and can also kill the driver, as was seen in South African in 1977 when Tom Pryce hit a fire marshal running across the track and both were killed. It is said that they could not identify the marshal until they had a roll call to find out who was missing, such was the state of the body. And F1 lost one of its most promising young drivers. So, folks, even if you are excited about the sport and think of Gunther Steiner as the new Brad Pitt, please don’t invade circuits until you are allowed to do so.

It is disappointing that the do-gooders who walked on the track last year at Silverstone were not sent to jail at Northampton Crown Court when they went to be sentenced in the days before the race in Australia. They got away with suspended sentences. If I had been the judge I’d have sentenced them to watch the video of the 1977 South African Grand Prix to explain their stupidity, no matter how self-righteous they may feel or how valid their message may (or may not) be. Being self-righteous is not such a big deal, but being self-righteous and dead is not clever.

The paddock in Albert Park was relatively quiet, although the fake F1 reporters around the world twisted and extrapolated more than ever, because real news was thin on the ground. There was talk of a night race in the future in Melbourne, which makes a lot of sense for all concerned. I am told that the latest state budgets for future Grands Prix already have contingencies to allow for lighting, although the state will probably buy rather than rent and so the equipment can be used over time for other events, which would be better at night. Timing is always a problem in a land that is so far away from the fan bases.

There is still talk of new teams and of the future of Scuderia AlphaTauri, but Red Bull continues to say (and to tell the team members) that the Italian operation is not for sale. But then again, everything is for sale at the right price, isn’t it? When I suggested this to Christian Horner he did not argue, but said that Red Bull would not be budging in its position. When I suggested that $800 million might be quite persuasive, he said that teams were now worth at least $1 billion. This does not mean we will not see changes in Faenza, as it has rather high costs at the moment.

I sought out Paul Stoddart to ask whether he had included any stipulation about a sale when he flogged the Minardi team to Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz back in 2005 and he explained that the sale process had taken about five minutes to conclude. Mateschitz had agreed to pay $75 million, although Stoddart got about half that figure as there were sizeable debts to be paid. Yes, he said, there was a verbal agreement to keep the team in Italy and look after the staff properly, but it was all a bit vague and not written down. With Mateschitz no longer with us, the verbal agreement is probably not worth a get deal, but we do not know what might have been written into Mateschitz’s will, so it is difficult to say whether it could be moved or not.

What could happen, however, is that more of the design process could be moved to Britain, along with some more of the production, but the Italian base will remain. It is widely agreed (even by Franz Tost) that his days with the team are numbered and so it is fair to speculate about the need for a replacement. There has been talk of Hitech Grand Prix boss Oliver Oakes being a possible candidate, but it is felt inside the Red Bull empire that a future boss will need to be Italian-speaking.

So, if Mr Oakes is spotted visiting language schools in Milton Keynes we will know there is something to the story, but for now he seems to be intent on pushing ahead with his plans for Hitech to get an entry of its own in 2026. The word is that he has got the money he needs from someone in Dubai and will make an announcement soon, but the cynics say that Dubai is well-known as a place where Russians still do business and so he needs to find a way to convince everyone in F1 that there is no Mazepin involvement in the whole thing, even if there is no paper trail that leads to Russia.

Hitech is working hard on its wind tunnel programme for the first car, which is believed to be taking place at the Mercedes Applied Science unit, just around the corner from Hitech’s facility in the fast-developing Silverstone Park industrial estate. This is  a short walk from the new Aston Martin factory and recently the nascent Andretti Global Formula 1 team has moved into premises in the same locale, so this is a hive of activity. The Andretti project has been planned in infinite detail (to make it hard to reject) and the new location is just an interim solution pending a green light, at which point the team will start developing a bigger and better facility somewhere in the region.

There is a note in the green book which says “Carlin building cars”, but this is not about 2026 but rather that Carlin has a deal to produce some F1 lookalikes for Brad Pitt’s movie. I have been delving into how these could be used and it is clear that the teams will not let them take part in races, but that we might see them at the back of the grid on occasion, but they will be hurried away when the real action begins. They will no doubt be used for lots of other purposes in the pits, and so on.

There is a note which says “Masi”, which is fairly self-explanatory. Michael Masi was back in the paddock, catching up with old friends, of which he has many in F1 and I heard more than a few folks ruminating that things would be better if Michael had not be thrown to the lions by the FIA. Obviously, that is not a view one hears at Mercedes, nor among the Lewis-loving British media, but it is there nonetheless. Michael makes no bones about the fact that what happened hurt a great deal, but he is enjoying his new role with Supercars, which allows him to live a much more sensible life, with all the delights that Australia provides.

Most of us who travel with F1 have wondered whether it is possible to live in Australia and travel to all the Grands Prix. It is not. I looked into it years ago. If only they could tow the continent (with Tasmania still attached) to a location not far from the Azores, it would be a different story…

I think we’d all be there if that was the case.

There were two other stories worth mentioning. One was that Jenson Button is so enthused by his recent adventure in NASCAR that he is seriously looking at trying to become a full-time NASCAR driver in the future, on ovals as well as road courses, and as international drivers are what NASCAR is desperate to get these days, that could happen. Jenson is certainly up for it.

The other little whisper was that Liberty Media, the owner of the Formula 1 group, is on the verge of buying something, which will help drive up the value of the business. I have been pondering what this might be and I am told it isn’t in the United States, which would have been my first conclusion. Perhaps the clever folks in Denver are going to be doing more races which they promote themselves (as is happening in Las Vegas) and I am wondering if there are not a few distressed European race tracks which might be acquired for F1. The owner of any entertainment venue controls the commercial rights to all events held, unless they choose to hand over these rights to someone else. Bernie Ecclestone’s genius was that he managed to get all the venues to sign over their commercial rights – and pay for Formula 1 as well. Bernie could not be bothered with owning venues, although he always seemed to have a secret desire to acquire Silverstone.

Today, it makes sense for F1 to own more venues, in order to have more assets and more revenues on the balance sheets. One can imagine that Liberty might be looking at buying some of the sport’s famous venues, in order to exploit their history, to create synergies and generate more money. Local governments might not want to pay for Grands Prix, but they all want to hold on to their events to attract visitors.

Liberty Media has deep enough pockets to invest in venues to allow them bigger capacities, which the current owners cannot afford to do. One of Liberty’s offshoots is  Live Nation Entertainment, a company that promotes, operates, and manages ticket sales for live entertainment and owns and operates entertainment venues, and manages musical talent. Racing circuits  also have a lot of space, on which one can develop things like convention facilities, hotels and entertainment venues.

So watch this space…

85 thoughts on “Green Notebook from various taxis

  1. Hi Joe. I’ve done a huge amount of travel in my life in 2x different jobs. I was Platinum on 2 or 3 airlines most of the time. But was also a Taxi Driver on a regular basis when on leave from Merchant Navy duties and it is common to charge more at might time than day time. I would say a $30 rate at 1am is too cheap if it’s usually $20 during the day. Give the guy a break, he’s working night shift.

    1. No, I prefer he works with the meter. They get extra for nights anyway. He was just pocketing the money and not handing it over to the company…

      1. I did think about that – so how do you know that keeping the $30 wouldn’t be cheaper than the meter? Most taxi drivers don’t get paid a basic – they get a % of the fares. They don’t get “extra for nights” per say.

  2. As usual another great read! Thanks. I would love to see Liberty buy Spa Francorchamps, it deserves to be around for at least another century or so.

  3. Personally I do not like Vegemite.

    I’m a Marmite fan which most people love or hate.

    If you like marmite and have not already tried it I suggest you get hold of and try the New Zealand version: NZ- Mite sold by Sanitarium.

    It comes in a round plastic jar rather than the traditional shaped glass marmite jars

    It was sold as marmite until Unilever took umbrage and I understand they are using up the old labels with a NZ- Mite sticker over the marmite name.

    Keep up the good work and no I’m not a Kiwi – just a sad Brit who must try to get out more!

    1. My chum Mr Hall was once caught in possession of a jar of Bovril when entering Australia.

      The Man: What’s this, mate?
      Mr Hall: Er, it’s a bit like Vegemite. But made from cows.

      They let him keep it 😁

    2. I do not like your vegemite
      I would not like it day or night
      I would not like it on a flight

      Would you eat it with a sprite?
      Would you eat it at twilight?

      I do not like it with a sprite
      I do not like it at twilight
      I do not think that it is right
      I only like the fresh marmite

    3. Wasn’t it sold as My Mate rather than NZ -Mite in New Zealand for a while? Even the British stuff that you buy in New Zealand now seems to have changed formula, much runnier than it used to be and far more bland. From another sad Brit now Kiwi (for 301 years) 🙂

  4. I along with many people, inlcuding the drivers, were a bit confused by the need for the red flags. I fully realise that the race director et al have much more info to hand than we do, but the only reason I can think of is that they were concerned about the integrity of the safety barriers. Although it wasn’t immediately apparent, Kevin Magnussen gave the barriers a fair old whack, and the two Alpines certainly did in the final incident. But the amount of time it took to restart the race suggests there was no need to repair any damage. Otherwise, I’m baffled.

    What’s your take on the red flags during this race Joe?

    1. The first one had piles of gravel which brooms could not fix. The second was about metal filings from the wheel rim that ground down the wall, and carbon shards too, I suspect. The third is obvious. Bits of car all over the place.

  5. Premature track invasions seem to be mainly an Albert Park-specific issue, considering the 2017 (&’ 18, iirc) cooldown lap & even paddock guests getting access to the pit lane on the final lap last year, with Albon approaching after his late stop.
    I read elsewhere that even a suspension from next season’s race calendar is possible despite being an extreme option, but unsurprising given this year’s invasion wasn’t the first.
    I was unaware of anything similar happening in the last Sao Paulo GP because, like in Melbourne, nothing was apparent on the world feed footage.

  6. In years past, a red-flagged race beyond 75% distance would be given full points and not restarted. I really don’t understand why they needed to make such a spectacle and delay just to do one lap behind the safety car at the end.

    1. Probably because Mercedes would complain… it’s all about precedents. Ditto the red flags, after Suzuka mess last year.

      1. “Probably because Mercedes would complain”

        Yes, that’s what I was thinking at the time. I think Masi made a huge mistake under enormous pressure (but I have no time for the conspiracy theorists who think he deliberately threw the championship to Verstappen – utter nonsense). However, having done that, they either need to treat it as a precedent and keep doing it, or have Mercedes correctly complain that the rules aren’t enforced consistently. I do have some sympathy for Masi, I think he just made a mistake, but that mistake is still having consequences.

      2. I think despite it being a mess, which it clearly was. Look at the consequential impact on Alpine, that’s a big repair bill for them under a cost cap, as I’m assuming every team (except Tim Can) are sailing as close to the cost cap as they can.

    2. Given the cost of attending grand prix now, I’d be cheesed off if I lost nearly 25% of the race for a simple incident, which seems to be enough for a red flag now. But there has to be better ways of doing it.

      1. The sport has tried clearing up messes with only Safety Cars and that has led to some bad experiences. Sometimes you need a red flag for total safety. You also need drivers to act responsibly in caution conditions, but they often do not.

  7. Hi Joe. Am very grateful for standing up for Michael Masi. I am appalled by the lack of gratitude and forgiveness from the British media ( I have stopped my subscriptions to both GP racing and Autosport) for his work. Especially the bitterness from another notebook writer was distasteful especially the way he used a media platform to which I am subscribed. A pathetic man who should have been replaced by a real engineer such as Bernie Collins.

    1. Michael Masi was hung for parking on a single yellow line 5 minutes early. He made a couple of mistakes, to those of us without access to all the data, in 2021. But there is very clear name for it, being human. Only dead people and politicians don’t make mistakes.

      1. …. but he had everyone from Mercedes telling him in real-time just how wrong it was and instead he just stacked the cards for the unjust outcome at the behest of Johnathan Wheatly.

        The FIA stewards not correcting his error was yet another injustice.

        Another FIA faux pas was committed last weekend agains Carlos. Fernando was coming across the track, on a similar path to Gasley behind. The contact was front wheel to rear wheel and Carlos was steering to the right. The guy had nowhere to go. To my mind it was a classic first lap incident and yet the stewards came out with this tripe.

        The Stewards reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video, timing, telemetry, team radio and in-car video evidence and determined that on the first corner of the restart, a collision occurred between Car 55 and Car 14. We determined that Car 55 was wholly to blame for the collision.
        Car 14 was significantly ahead of Car 55 at the first corner and nevertheless Car 55 drove into Car 14, causing it to spin and leave the track. We accordingly imposed a 5-second penalty on Car 55.
        For avoidance of doubt, we took into account the fact that this collision took place at the first lap of the restart, when, by convention, the Stewards would typically take a more lenient view of incidents.
        However, in this particular case, notwithstanding the fact that it was the equivalent of a first lap incident, we considered that there was sufficient gap for Car 55 to take steps to avoid the collision and failed to do so.

        I feel certain that had both drivers been interviewed after the drive-by ending then Fernando would have agreed it was more 50/50 rather than 0/100.

        I am pleased to see that Ferrari have now decided to appeal.

        1. I still believe he did the best he could in a bad situation, and the most important part is he has access to information we do not see in making decisions. I still believe he should have thrown a red flag when Lecrashi latiffied, but then what would be regarded as precedent. He didn’t and as Muzza used to say about IF On Sunday with the Magnusson incident, the race could have proceeded until SC conditions and we would have had the same finish. Later I watched the Indycars from Texas and Grosjean was turfed into a crash with two laps to go, it ended under SC. The right guy won. That’s common sense for you.

  8. What a breath of fresh air to read your sage and sane words, Joe. After all the column inches from basement internet warriors it is so refreshing to read the insights you provide.

    One question : what are your thoughts on Massa’s reported potential challenge to Hamilton’s 2008 Championship? I’m guessing you’d think it was nonsense but …

  9. Always entertaining to read about your travels and F1 behind the scenes, Joe, thank you.

    I read today about Massa considering his legal options now that Bernie is apparently on record as saying he knew about crashgate mid-season in 2008 but kept quiet.

    Interested to hear if you have any thoughts on this?

      1. If it is a joke, that’s hilarious as the BBC did quite a long peice on it this afternoon on Radio 5 Live. I did wonder why they had a German journalist as the talking head (Inga Stracka)? Now it all makes sense 😀

          1. I did not offer an opinion on the validity of the story, I answered the question to correct your understanding of its timing.

  10. Kym Illman the F1 photographer travels to each formula 1 race from Perth. His YouTube channel is interesting, informative and very well produced.

    1. I did not know that. That would be good for London, Rome, Dubai, Doha, Singapore, Tokyo and Melbourne, as there are direct flights from Perth (the London one is 17+ hours). However it will be very expensive and will require places to stay between back-to-back European events, which all adds to the costs. I should think it would also be very tiring. I have been on flights with him from time to time and he seems to be travelling upstairs/at the front and so his life will be easier. If money is not a restricting factor one has a lot more comfort.

      1. No doubt – Kym Illman can afford to fly business/first on all his flights and stay in top class hotels for multiple weeks and months at a time. He’s very good at what he does, and I don’t mean photography because he’s mediocre at best when it comes to that.

        1. Kym Illman is not short of a quid. That’s why most of his videos show him in business class. Made his money with messages on hold I believe. I think the F1 photography is a hobby which he has turned into a successful business through his social media presence. Still a good photographer but I wouldn’t put him in the Darren Heath class.

          1. Just looked at his website and YT channel. He sure is doing a lot to sell merchandise. I shan’t be making him a bit wealthier by watching ads on his channel though. – Joe – you should do some vlogs etc from races, sure you could make a few quid out of monetising your channel.

  11. Joe, as always, thanks for your post-event Green Notebook reports.

    At the risk of being trite, whilst Ecclestone ran F1 in a very different way than Liberty is currently (and with decidedly less financial backstop), as the owner of Paul Ricard, he didn’t (or doesn’t) have “no interest in owning a circuit”.

    Liberty may be taking a page from NASCAR, who recently repatriated the ISC tracks back into the fold. Given sufficient funding, Bernie might very well have bought up venues that, with proper promotion, could increase returns. Liberty has that kind of money and is likely encouraged by the positive response to the upcoming Las Vegas race.

      1. I’ve learned over the years that one should never question you, Joe, as you’re invariably right.

        Wikipedia indicates that Bernie still owns Paul Ricard (not that it’s infallible). I do recall that Slavia was to receive the track as part of their divorce settlement… did she sell the circuit?

        That said, Bernie did own the track for more than a few decades, which I hope makes my case.

        1. She got it as part of the divorce settlement – and that was a long time ago. She has tried to sell it, but she wants too much money.

  12. Any thoughts, on the “talk-up” Danny Ric been getting from Red Bull? How about those bad habits he learned according to Horner?

  13. Joe, thank you for your great notebook. I must call you up on a point of extreme order … revenue is in the Income Statement/P&L. Assets (and Liabilities) are on the Balance Sheet!

    What does an accountant use as a contraceptive? … their personality.

  14. Have you considered webcasting your “An Evening With” talks? I would pay $10 to sit at home with a crisp Chablis and listen to your dulcet tones! Or is it too costly or complex?

  15. Late night Aussie taxi drivers are not the only racketeers in this world.
    I was begrudging the arm and the leg that I pay for my Sky subscription when I read that BBC have been at it again.
    Just as they did with F1, they have washed their hands of their millions of golf fans and let the rights to the Masters go to….. yes, you guessed, Sky.

    1. That’s not the BBC’s fault. The BBC has very limited funds for sports (other than football, it seems) and Sky, it seems, have limitless funds for sports. Sky outbids everyone else in the UK. We only have the Channel 4 FTA highlights because of very careful packaging by F1.

      1. @Ben K
        Sky are able to charge fans exorbitant fees because they are a monopoly. This in turn provides them with the means to purchase the rights to other sports. Repeat ad infinitum.

        It was the BBC who first designed this model for the benefit of Sky and persuaded them to adopt it in a celebrated business meeting that lasted only some 20 minutes. It didn’t take Sky longer than that to buy the idea, and to take F1 off the hands of the BBC.
        Motion then was agreed to adjourn and repair to the nearest cocktail lounge and drink a toast to the fans.

  16. Joe, this is the most verbose I think I have ever noticed you being in your responses. I realize that the Green Notebook doesn’t directly produce revenue but it does keep people entertained/informed and coming back for more. which can of course well translate into a future (paid) option taken by those people if they aren’t currently at that point.

    In short, I enjoyed your responses as much as the initial post, so hope you will consider more of the same in the future. Thank You!

  17. Friday’s ‘An Evening with Joe’ was great as always.

    Don’t know if you managed to walk among the spectators but I was surprised at how many women were there, and young ones at that! As an old white man myself, I was very heartened that the sport has finally managed to become much more diverse and able to acquire a younger generation, since it was ‘touch and go’ there for a while.

  18. Thanks for your stories Joe, Did you write “The Mole” columns about F1? If you did, what are the chances of resurrecting them? There were none better!

  19. Hello Joe, Your comments on the Melbourne grand prix were most interesting, as were your adventures in early morning Melbourne following rice dye.

    Re the attendance, the ‘crowd’ numbers you quote don’t reflect the actual numbers of ticket buying trace fans. Freedom-of -information replies have shown that the 2022 event ‘crowd’ of 419,114 actually comprised ‘attendances’ by the following: Assumed holders of free tickets 35,391 Repeat daily attendances by around 16,000 event staff, competitors 67,500 Single and repeat attendances by around 192,000 ticket-buying fans 316,223 Total attendances 419,114 Confirmation of the estimate of 192,000 ticket buying fans is provided by the ticket sales revenue for the event, $56.037 million (ie around $292 revenue per ticket). We haven’t started on FOI’s for the claimed crowd for the 2023 event but are very confident that the same attendance counting methodology was used to reach 444,631.

    Best wishes, for the rest of the F1 season, particularly Las Vegas., Peter Goad, President, Save Albert Park Inc.

    1. I think you may be seeing the trees but not the forest. Albert Park was saved by the Grand Prix. I went there in the 1980s and it was a dump, infested by drunks and junkies. The value of the houses has increased multiple times as a result. Melbourne is on the world map. Without the GP, Albert Park would be in New Zealand… (Google it, if you don’t get the point). Have a nice day.

      1. Joe, thanks for another great column, and for fighting through the time zones. A night race in Australia would be a kick in the teeth for all the people who only get one chance a year to watch a grand prix at a reasonable time – not to mention the awful waste of energy and resources on lighting the track.

        If you’re able to explain the NZ reference abut Albert Park – or at least drop a bigger hint – I’d appreciate it. Have spent some time looking but my Google skills are clearly not up to the task. We do have an Albert Park in Auckland (like many colonial cities from the days or the Empire) but I don’t think that’s what you’re referring to.

    2. You sound like a real blast.

      Look at Albert Park from its first race in 1996 to now, it’s evolved and improved year on year, and as Joe pointed out the race circuit was the catalyst.

      The only people who take attendance figures seriously are anoraks, promoters and statisticians. And the headline was attendance, not tickets purchased, dogs turned away at the turnstiles, vegimite rolls sold

      Andrew Macdonald
      25th Vice President
      Save humanity from itself Society

  20. In post-Uber Melbourne taxi drivers seem emboldened to quote a fare up-front and not bother with even turning the meter on half the time – invariably more expensive – but I believe that at night they are entitled to ask that a fare is pre-paid based on their quote. But yeah, $30 from Albert Park to CBD is rich.

    Melbourne ceased being delightfully liveable about 2 million people ago.

    I thought the red flags were justified, especially after K Mag’s rim shredding accident – what bothered me were the restarts. When there are only a handful of laps left to run, a grid restart seems to create excessive jeopardy for those that have stayed clean and run good strategies And especially when they were already on the last lap, restarting after the final debacle seemed pointless, why not just call it?

      1. 25 vegemite satchels would be more than adequate for a year’s supply… probably do for a decade, to be frank!

  21. Joe, great piece as usual. I found Parisian taxi drivers were the worst in the rip off department, had to pay an exorbitant fare to go the Gare Nord as the flag falls when they accept a phone job. Mind you have heard that some Melbourne taxi drivers were demanding $50 to travel from Rod Laver Arena to the city when the tennis was on. So you got off lightly with $30. Now to my question why didn’t they just call the race when Magnussen collected the wall? Would have saved Alpine an enormous rebuild bill at least. Does the FIA think that they need to continually “entertain” the masses?

  22. Hi Joe – informative and entertaining as usual.
    Is it my imagination or is F1 less efficient these days in dealing with the aftermath of incidents? Is there less urgency due to the fact that if people are now required to go beyond the barriers there will be a SC or VSC? Maybe I’m just getting old and remembering ‘the good old days’ – but I seem to remember F1 marshals, stewards and track workers being the best there were and clearing debris far more quickly and disturbing the racing far less.
    I occasionally watch Indy racing and they seem far quicker these days than their F1 counterparts. No matter whether it’s a oval (which I’m aware are far wider and easier to marshal than an F1 track) or ‘proper’ race circuit, a tow truck seems to be at the scene within a minute or so, everyone – including the doctor – piles out, checks the scene, helps the driver (if required), gets the car hoisted and are away seemingly in less time than it takes anyone in F1 to have got trackside!

  23. I don’t see the suitability for a night race at Albert Park unless they are willing to compromise their live audience for Euro TV.When I leave the track at around 7 it is nearly always very cold and windy.Miserable weather.Weather unlike any other venue doing night races.Also to light the track they would have to chop down hundreds of trees from after Turn 2 all the way until Turn 8.Environmental vandalism.Plus until they can get the power from a 100% renewables grid how are they parking their sustainability claims?
    Given the way they stood up to Bernie’s demands for a night race all those years ago to suddenly put it in play seems strange,

  24. I’d be a little disappointed if the race went to a night race, yes I know it looks better on TV and is better time for audiences elsewhere, down here we get so few races on at a convenient time. Also I’m not sure that having people on the sauce for a few more hours is going to help keep them off the track.

    Oh and nice of you to mention Tasmania 😀


  25. I noted with some interest that John Malone sold off over 12% of his shares in the F1 Group last month to the tune of some $37m, and Brian Wendling sold off his entire holding. I wonder what the motivation for those transactions would have been if, as you say, Liberty is about to acquire assets that increase the value of the business.

          1. Not at all: selling 12% of his holding for $37m would have meant he held $308m in shares before those sales, yes, but he didn’t hold 100% of the company…

  26. Joe, Many thanks once again for your sundry thoughts.

    I recall a headline from the very early days of Fernando Alonso’s career and it has stuck with me ever since. It was most likely during the Briatore period at Renault in 2002, and probably in or around the Hungarian GP of that year. The story was almost certainly by a more respected F1 journo (I read little else) and the header read ‘I Have Seen the Future and it is Spelled FA’ (or words to that effect).

    Was it yours ?

  27. I paid 100 Euros to get from Munich airport to Allianz Arena for the NFL game, 120 Euros to get back.

  28. Having been reminded above about the exploits of The Mole and Co., nostalgia got the better of me and I thought a re-visit was in order.
    What do I find halfway through the first entry? Something that could have been written last week rather than 15 years ago – ‘…but the big worry for the three men in the pub was that one day Formula 1 would be sold to the Arabs.’
    Fortunately, their fears were unwarranted, let’s just hope that remains the case!

  29. After leaving the horribly organized 2022 Barcelona GP on the Saturday evening we were confronted with an hours long wait at the train station trying to get back to town. I saw a taxi in the distance and went over to ask the fare. The taxi driver said €200, I said forget it. Then another taxi pulled up and I asked him. He said whatever the meter says. Turned out to be €50. Still it was €50 more than I should have paid since I had a return ticket for the train in my pocket. Utterly disappointed with my first F1 race experience I didn’t bother going to the race on Sunday and watched it in my hotel room on my laptop.

    1. It was a big mess and the organisers did get a public telling off as a result. Try again, they are not all like that.

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