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PREPARATIONS RAMP UP AS GRAND PRIX APPROACHES

As the Formula 1 drivers prepare for the opening round of the World Championship, many are taking the chance to experience Melbourne’s culture and sights before they hit the track. Here is a taste of what they got up to.

Local hero Daniel Ricciardo and young teammate Max Verstappen had a dinghy race on the Yarra River this morning. Both claimed they were victorious as professional dinghy pilots Scott Jenke and Jeremy Newman guided the pair of dinghy’s and their ‘passengers’ around the 400m course.

“I didn’t really have expectations because I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Verstappen. “My first thoughts when I saw the boats were pretty positive. I like speed, I like to be in the water so I was looking forward to just getting in and experiencing it.”

Ricciardo added, “You’re moving around a lot. The speed and acceleration are pretty impressive even though I’m sure they turned it down a bit for us. It’s a super-nimble craft with a turning circle that’s practically nothing. Wow!”

Once the race had finished Ricciardo’s attention quickly turned to racing this weekend.

“Pre-season’s a lot more chatter than driving, so I’m really looking forward to the real thing beginning,” said Ricciardo. “I’m really hanging out for getting in the car on Friday – not just for the satisfaction of driving but also to see where we stand. This weekend is the first time we’ll all line-up on the same tyres, with the same fuel and get a good impression of where we stand. I’m keen to find out – I’m sure everybody else is too.”

Meanwhile, Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein celebrated the start of Sauber’s 25th anniversary in Formula 1 by enjoying some racing themed cakes Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio Chef, Darren Purchase. The pair also learned the tricks behind making something that Melbourne is renowned for, coffee.

While not the best day for it, Force India drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon had a game of beach volleyball at Brighton Beach. The pair were joined by triple Australian Olympian Tamsin Hinchley, who gave the boys some lessons.

On track action starts tomorrow at 10:30 am with the Shannons Historic Demonstration ahead of the first Qualifying session for Australian GT at 11:50 am.