Melbourne is the sporting capital of the world… say the people of Melbourne, at least.
The award-winning city has everything a sports enthusiast could want; a bit of Grand Slam tennis here, a Boxing Day Ashes Test there.
For the Formula 1 nut, however, it signals the beginning of a rollercoaster calendar of simmering rivalry, high drama and fast racing.
And this year the stakes are higher than usual, as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel go head-to-head to become the most successful driver of their generation and claim a fifth world title ahead of the other.
The Australian Grand Prix also brings with it a new dawn in car design, with the controversial Halo device having its first competitive run out in Albert Park.
With new owners Liberty Media also in charge, F1’s hierarchy will be hoping the Aussies can serve up plenty of razzmatazz and audience engagement.
Thousands of fans and a buzzing atmosphere is something Australia has never struggled with. Tumbleweed blowing through an empty grandstand could come later in the season.
A lack of mental sharpness mixed with unpredictable weather also brings together a challenging experience for the drivers, and excitement for the crowds.
The locals here have a saying: “you’re only a true Melbournian when you’ve used an umbrella, scarf, sunglasses, sunscreen and thongs (or flip flops to us Brits) – on the same day.”
Rewind to 2017 and Sebastian Vettel took first blood with an opening race victory against rival Lewis Hamilton. Both drivers are now level in the all-time winners list with four drivers’ championships.
The stage is set and the countdown nearly complete. In the words of the most recent world champion: “Let’s get to racing.”
Previously in Formula 1
Back pocket facts
- Until 1966, all pubs in Melbourne closed at 6pm
- Vegemite was invented in Melbourne in 1922 after months of laboratory tests by food technologist Dr Cyril P Callister
- Before Melbourne was called Melbourne, it was named Batmania after John Batman, a colonist farmer from Tasmania who landed in Port Philip Bay in May 1835
- The Black Box flight recorder was invented in 1958 by Dr David Warren at the Aeronautical Research Laboratories in Melbourne. Warren’s father had died in a plane crash over the Bass Strait in 1934.
What is your most memorable Australian Grand Prix moment? Don’t keep it to yourself – share it with the rest of us.
Below you can vote on six highlights from previous races. Will it be the first-corner carnage of 2002 that gets the nod?
Or how about the Michael Schumacher v Damon Hill showdown of 1994?
Pick your favourite and we’ll reveal the results online and during 5 live F1’s Australian GP preview.
How to follow on BBC Sport
BBC Sport has live coverage of all the season’s races on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, plus live online commentary on the BBC Sport website and mobile app – including audience interaction, expert analysis, debate, voting, features, interviews and video content.
All times GMT until Sunday 25 March when BST begins. Times are subject to change at short notice.
|Australian Grand Prix coverage details|
|Date||Session||Time||Radio coverage||Online text commentary|
|Thursday, 22 March||Preview||20:00-21:00||BBC Radio 5 live|
|Friday, 23 March||First practice||00:55-02:35||BBC Sport online||From 00:30|
|Second practice||04:55-06:35||BBC Sport online||From 04:30|
|Saturday, 24 March||Third practice||02:55-04:04||BBC Sport online||From 02:30|
|Qualifying||05:55-07:05||BBC Sport online||From 05:00|
|Sunday, 25 March||Race||06:10 BST||BBC Radio 5 live||From 04:30|
|Monday, 26 March||Review||04:30-05:00 & podcast||BBC Radio 5 live|