Start your engines: The best ways to experience the 2023 Australian Grand Prix
From the roar of the engines to the smell of burning rubber to the rush of the pack tearing past the finish line, Formula One is a sport best experienced trackside. While live TV coverage has been a staple of households around the world for decades, nothing beats being there and taking in every turn, upset and triumph right by the tarmac. And the fans know it. Last year, the Australian Grand Prix pulled in record numbers to Albert Park. Over 419,000 fans emerged from the two-year COVID-19 pandemic bubble to watch the action, besting the prior record turnout of 401,000 in 1996 – the year of the event’s debut.
With the addition of the Formula Two and Formula Three championships in 2023 – a huge win for young Australian drivers chasing a pathway to Formula One glory – organizers are expecting even greater numbers for the Formula One Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2023.
In response, the Australian Grand Prix and its stable of partners – including Rolex, Marriott Bonvoy, Mercedes-Benz, Red Bull and Patron Tequila – have teamed up to make this year’s event the best ever. A further 5,000 grandstand seats have been added, while a number of headline artists will take the stage once the cars are back in the garage.
Also new in 2023 are a number of premium hospitality experiences provided in collaboration with some of the Australian Grand Prix’s high-end partners. Whether you’re planning a long weekend trackside or are simply there for the main event, there’s a way to catch every heart-stopping moment of the Australian Grand Prix 2023 in style and comfort.
The all-inclusive Red Bull Energy Station is brand new to Albert Park, but will be a familiar sight to those who follow Formula One around the world. Thanks to an electric performance by Dutchman Max Verstappen in 2022, the energy drink giant is the reigning Formula One champion, and has taken home the Constructors’ Championship on five occasions.
Verstappen is back to defend his title in 2023, and Red Bull fans can cheer him on from the two-storey indoor-outdoor facility located at the exit to the pit lane. Attendees can expect refreshments, live entertainment, Red Bull Gaming and appearances from the Red Bull Racing team, all in a modern, lounge-style setting. Despite prices starting at about US$1,022 for a single day pass, tickets have already sold out.
Another 2023 newcomer is T8 Lakeside, an immersive, first-class venue set beside Turn-8 on the shores of Albert Park Lake. The price of admission includes live entertainment, a premium food and beverage package and some of the best views of the track, including a rooftop viewing balcony. The T8 Lakeside has proven popular already, with tickets selling so fast they’d have a chance in the qualifiers. A three-day pass will set you back about US$2,754.
Eyes glued to the finish line are likely to catch a glimpse of The Marriott Bonvoy Lounge – and that’s as close as many are likely to get. The glamorous Albert Park staple and Formula One veteran has already sold out, but a lucky few will experience unparalleled views of the action, an exclusive St Hugo’s cellar door experience, an indulgent menu, access to the world-renowned Formula One Paddock Club Pit Roof and, of course, high-end digs courtesy of Australian Grand Prix partner Marriott.
Additionally, fans can witness the high-speed thrills from a number of other suites spread around the circuit. The lounge-style Slipstream suite is right on the approach to Turn 9, meaning viewers will catch drivers at speeds pushing 330 kilometers an hour. Meanwhile, The Atrium’s cathedral roof and glass paneling makes it the most eye-catching facility on offer, and will have even the most focused of fans (and drivers) turning their heads.
And those with a fascination for all things motorsport may prefer the Brabham and Jones Grandstands, both of which provide a classic, immersive experience that you don’t just see – you can feel.
If an asphalt-eye view isn’t your thing, head to the helipad near Turn 14 and experience Albert Park from the air. The Formula One Grand Prix Joy Flight takes you by helicopter over the Formula One circuit, Melbourne City and Port Phillip Bay.
Fortunately for the influx of revheads visiting the Victorian capital, there’s no shortage of accommodation and dining options to match the trackside experience. In 2022, a whopping 96 percent of non-locals visited Melbourne just for the Grand Prix, and 89 percent of those stayed overnight to make the most of the high-octane four-day weekend.
This year, those heading to Melbourne to make a long weekend out of the Australian Grand Prix can make the most of the experience at some of the city’s best hotels and restaurants.
AC Hotel Melbourne Southbank
Located just a short drive from Albert Park, the AC Hotel Melbourne Southbank provides a stylish and luxurious way to unwind after a long day at the track.Bask in the sophistication of Bar Triana and indulge in Spanish-style cuisine in the Sorolla restaurant, enjoy the view from the infinity pool, take full advantage of the 1pm checkout and even bring your pet.
The AC emphasizes a good night’s rest; the perfect antidote to the day’s adrenaline.
Next Hotel Melbourne
Nestled as it is amid the restaurants, bars and high fashion of the new 80 Collins precinct, Next Hotel Melbourne is the perfect headquarters for anyone looking to check out the city once the chequered flag has flown.
The understated, ultra-modern rooms are purpose-built for recharging, and minibars are loaded with a combination of local drops and Next’s signature cocktails from the Barrel Room.
Club room guests gain exclusive access to The Club, a high-end space for gatherings, meetings or solo work, fully catered with a range of refreshments available 24/7 and ‘Aperitivo’ from 5–7pm every evening.
The Next Hotel’s in-house restaurant, La Madonna, combines the Italian and Asian culinary influences of chefs Danny Natoli and Adrian Li to form an unlikely – and sensational – menu filled with artisan produce, comfort food and bold new tastes.
This quirky approach is exemplified by the compressed tomato, which combines stracciatella, basil and yuzu kosho to send your taste buds around the world in an instant. It is not to be missed.
Further up Little Collins is Aru, which puts a new spin on traditional Asian flavors. Perhaps only in Melbourne could you enjoy a duck sausage sanga with leatherwood honey and peanut hoisin, or wagyu tongue and marrow wrapped in a betel leaf.
Dishes are designed for sharing, and the dimly lit dining rooms separated by chain mail lend themselves well to group discussions of the day’s events over a meal.
Although Gimlet only opened in 2020, the bar and restaurant’s 1920s building looks and feels like an age-old Melbourne institution. Gimlet’s seasonal menus also help in that regard, built as they are around Australian produce and a wood-fired oven that dominates the kitchen.
Portions are generous, which is a great excuse to give the Uber a miss and go for a post-meal stroll through the heart of the city. A must: the beef and anchovy tartare prepared right at your table.
Victoria by Farmer’s Daughters
A spinoff of the 80 Collins favorite that put provenance squarely back on the plate, Victoria by Farmer’s Daughters takes the idea of celebrating Victoria’s contributions to the culinary scene and runs with it.
Situated on the banks of the Yarra in a hidden corner of Federation Square, the venue comes highly recommended for out-of-towners unfamiliar with Victoria’s spoils; the seasonal menus are as fast-moving as the Formula One cars.
The best of the season and the garden state itself are showcased, from rich, seared O’Connor beef to flavorsome Mount Zero grains to top drops from Victoria’s 21 wine regions. In January, the restaurant partnered with the Australian Open to offer a range of ticket-and-dining experiences.
The Australian Grand Prix will no doubt give Victoria by Farmers Daughter – and by extension, Victorian produce – another chance to shine.