A good crowd in Melbourne

Despite much griping in the local media, which seems to have it in for the management of the Grand Prix Corporation, the Australian Grand Prix had another solid weekend in terms of crowd figures with a total of 301,000 spectators over the four days. On race day there were 105,000 present with 47,500 on Thursday, 72,500 on Friday and 76,000 on Saturday. The number of fans knocked a very big hole in the arguments of those who have been talking down the race in recent weeks.

The figures are particularly good given that the V8 Supercars, Australia's biggest draw, were not present because of the bizarre F1 calendar. It is almost certain that they will be back again next year once everyone involved has settled down and realised that it makes sense for all concerne to race in the same event.

The format in Melbourne has come under criticism and there is no doubt that the celebrity race and air displays seem to be lacking in innovation but the event is still developing and the party atmosphere that invades the town seems as healthy as ever, even if this year there were clashes with other Melbourne events. Pushing the Grand Prix back to its traditional early March date is what makes the most sense but the Formula One group was unwilling to do that this year because it had other fish to fry and Melbourne had to suffer from an inconvenient date as a result.

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