Yes! We’re back. After 14 thoroughly miserable weeks of getting plenty of sleep and eating food not presented in tiny trays, we’re back on the road for a brand-new season of F1. It’s like we haven’t been away.
Sadly, with continuity there must also be change, and after physical threats from the boss and no small amount of emotional blackmail from the lawyers, Spy has decided to park the Fake News. This presents an opportunity to supply something totally different: something less acerbic, kinder and not so legally actionable.
F1 is a data-driven sport, heavy on the facts and with no room for wishful thinking. But, there are facts, and then there are alternative facts. Alternative facts do not need to be factual, or even plausible, they simply need to be relayed with conviction.
The Australian Grand Prix is classed as a medium circuit for beer consumption, averaging 1.7litres per lap – rising to 2.8litres during Safety Car periods. Meat pie intake is expected to remain constant at 3 per spectator. Several vendors have raised safety concerns about the plan to restart the race from the grid following a red flag, stating they may not have enough warm pies left for such a restart. FIA officials have dismissed the concern, stating that they expect vendors to have plenty of warm pies available but in the event of a shortage, or a repeat of the great ketchup scarcity of 2012, the race director has the authority to restart behind the safety car to prevent queuing.
Tyre supplier Pirelli are bringing the yellow, red and purple tyres to Australia. Following winter testing in Barcelona, the teams have agreed that each compound somewhere between 'a bit' and 'quite a bit' softer than its 2017 counterpart. This year's yellow is a bit like last year's red, while the red is quite a bit softer than last year's purple. The new purple is softer than a newborn kitten playing on a rug.* The extra grip on offer from the new tyres has led to a widespread belief that the lap record in Albert Park will be smashed this year – though everyone involved in the Barcelona test is quick to point out that winter testing doesn't offer conclusive results as conditions will be quite different in Australia, which is noted for its lack of snow during the summer months.
The Albert Park Circuit is named in honour of Philippe Albert, former Belgium international footballer who played for Anderlecht, Newcastle United and Fulham, and Park Ji-sung, the first Asian player to appear in the UEFA Champions League Final. Following an Australian tradition that demands every single blade of grass on which sport might be played by named after a noted sportsman or sportswoman, Albert and Park got the nod as they were simply next on the list.
As proof that the Australian Grand Prix offers excellent value for money to the state of Victoria, the Victorian Government has revealed the crowd at the 2017 Australian Grand Prix exceeded seven million. Pressed to explain why the crowd exceeded the total population of the state, officials explained that the race "attracted many out-of-state visitors." Overhead images of the general admission areas around the golf course, and data from Yarra Trams appear to contradict the Government claims – but a spokesman insisted the numbers were real, while also pouring scorn on the notion that the primary reason Melbourne wants the Grand Prix is to stop Sydney getting it.
It takes 290,000 work hours to construct the temporary race track in Albert Park. This can be broken down into seven work hours to put up the catch fences and remove the street furniture, and 289,993 work hours to write letters to all the sports clubs in South Melbourne, explaining they can't use the facilities this week because their pitch is currently under the Porsche paddock.
The Albert Park Circuit is famous for its many overtaking opportunities. Last year's race featured two successful overtaking moves, double the number seen at several other grand prix and an infinite number more than are expected in Monaco.
After years as demonstration rounds, this year the four Supercars support races will be official rounds of the Supercars Championship. Drivers are expected to exercise more caution now the event has championship points at stake, and the formally raucous contests which have often provided a thorough test of the strength and durability of the circuit's tyre and Tecpro barriers will become the stately battle of wits with an emphasis on restraint and caution for which the series is known around the world.
*But not Fernando Alonso's kitten, which is obviously harder than nails.