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GP Week : Issue 178
17 GPWEEK.com // 17 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: It barely seems like 20 minutes ago that I was downing caipirinhas in Sao Paulo, toasting the end of the season with my colleagues, but here we are in Albert Park, looking back on the first race of the season. That beast of a flight is behind us, the first round of ‘how was your winter?’ has been and gone, and now we’re all back to the teasing and jocularity that make this sport so special. Walking along Fitzroy Street on Wednesday morning, it was hard to believe a whole year had passed since I whiled away the post-race Monday doing laundry and stealing WiFi. Formula One is looking slightly different this season, with a few new faces, some notable departures, and the odd tweak to the rulebook. And you’ll find that GPWEEK is also looking slightly different this season, with a few new faces and the odd tweak to the editorial vision. While we still hope to be your first port of call on a Monday morning, this year GPWEEK is more about the views than it is about the news. The ever-hungry beast that is the 24-hour internet news cycle means that you’ll likely have read most news stories on Twitter before any journo has been able to come up with a punny headline. So while we’ll be dishing up a slice of news with our rants, GPWEEK 2013 is all about the insight, the opinions, and giving you a backstage pass into the paddock. Want to know what it’s like trying to break into Formula One as a freelance journalist? Our news editor and Reuters refugee Abhishek Takle has you covered in next week’s issue. But Formula One isn’t the be-all and end-all of motorsport – far from it. Even in single-seaters, there’s a whole lot more than just F1. And the health of Formula One depends on the health of motorsport in general, not least the confusing whirlwind of feeder categories. In this issue, contributing editor Leigh O’Gorman takes a look at Gerhard Berger ’s efforts to inject some sanity into all the craziness which is the path to F1. And make no mistake – Formula One is a travelling circus of crazy. We’re a global family of mad scientists, speed freaks, and good old-fashioned eccentrics who work hard and play hard. That devotion to finding the extra tenth on track? It’s also applied to finding the perfect pint at the end of a long working day. Teams and journalists put their differences to the side when the paddock gates are behind them, and a typical race weekend sees a jumble of team kit propping up bars with a cold one in hand. As the season opener, Melbourne has something of a party reputation, although the incredibly strong Australian dollar has put a dampener on things in recent years. Once upon a time it was impossible to swing a cat along Fitzroy Street without hitting a paddock colleague in the face. But pints at prices that make your average Londoner ’s soul bleed means that for the past few years, the partying is more paddock, less public. The arrival of new sponsors into the sport is great for Formula One’s financial health, but less good for the average journalist’s liver. Over the course of the Australian race weekend there was a boozy Mercedes lunch, a Rolex cocktail soiree, and an Infiniti yacht party to keep us entertained. But the real highlight? The Australian Grand Prix welcome party, which took place on Thursday night. In true Aussie style we were welcomed with a boozy barbecue – snags and VB and what-not. But where the sponsor events are all about having a good time while staying professional, keeping one’s networking face on, the circuit doesn’t stand on ceremony. The F1 press corps joins forces with the home-grown V8 nutters, and all and sundry let their hair down in a relaxed environment that’s more thongs than Louboutins. Formula One likes a party, and Albert Park certainly knows how to throw one. Baby, we’re back! ON THE ROAD AGAIN ... OPINION KATE WALKER Editor OPINION