The Robb Report Guide to the 2024 Australian Grand Prix

Everything you need to know ahead of one of the most anticipated F1 races of the year.

By Josh Bozin 19/03/2024

As the Former F1 world champion and racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart once said, the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix is “really one of the great grand prix in the world.” From thrilling starts to fast and dangerous corners, the AGP isn’t just one of the most riveting races of the year, but one of the most anticipated, too.

It’s the third race of the season and the ten F1 teams will be doing all they can to secure championship points early so expect drama to ensue. From the spectator side, it’s hard to miss the growing levels of enthusiasm just days away from the big event.

But whether you’re new to the world of Formula 1, a self-professed expert—thanks to Drive to Survive—or a seasoned motoring fanatic, there’s no harm in being up to date with all the happenings on and off the track ahead of race day.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 2024 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

When and Where is the Australian Grand Prix? 

The 2024 Australian Grand Prix will return to Albert Park in Melbourne from 21 to 24 March.

AGP

What’s the Race Schedule?

With this year’s Australian Grand Prix slated to be the biggest to date, you can be assured that Formula 1 will pack a lot into its Melbourne schedule, starting with Thursday. For fans of motorsport, you can catch a glimpse of the Porsche Carrera Cup Qualifiers and Race 1 of the exhilarating event. Friday, the Formula 1 teams will take to the track for two offical practice sessions. You’ll also witness Race 2 of the Porsche Carrera Cup, as well as Qualifiers for the Formula 2 and Formula 3. Stick around post-race to see global music superstar, Amy Shark, perform live at Crown Main Stage.

Saturday is an important day for the drivers of Formula 1—some claim that it’s more critical than the race itself. For Qualifiers, where you poll is indicative of your outcome come race day. Fans can enjoy sprint laps of the Formula 2, the Red Bull Air Display, as well as live performances from Aussie music stars JET and Vanessa Amorosi.

Sunday… race day! Where dreams are made or lost. Guests will be entertained with the Formula 2 and Formula 3 races, as well the official Formula 1 Driver’s Parade. Come 3pm, take your seat as the 20 drivers battle it out across 58 laps (or 306.124 km) to take home Australian Grand Prix bragging rights. The Presets and Empire of the Sun will close out yet another Australian Grand Prix in style post-race.

So, Who’s Racing?

This year, the ten teams competing for the World Championship include:

  • Red Bull Racing (Max Verstappen & Sergio Perez)
  • Ferrari (Charles Leclerc & Carlos Sainz)
  • McLaren (Oscar Pastry & Lando Norris)
  • Mercedes (Lewis Hamilton & George Russell)
  • Aston Martin (Fernando Alonso & Lance Stroll)
  • Haas F1 Team (Nico Hülkenberg & Kevin Magnussen)
  • Williams (Alex Albon & Logan Sargeant)
  • Kick Sauber (Zhou Guanyu & Valtteri Bottas)
  • RB (Daniel Ricciardo & Yuki Tsunoda)
  • Alpine (Pierre Gasly & Esteban Ocon)
Formula 1 Melbourne
Getty


What’s the Albert Park Circuit Like?

Unlike other tracks on the F1 circuit which are dedicated racing facilities, Albert Park is a temporary facility. As a result, it is, at times, bumpy and often slippery at the beginning (as the rubber from the tyres acclimates to the surface). It’s also a fast track and drivers need to be reactive at every corner to maintain optimal stability.

And Who’s Likely to Win?

Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing has comfortably won the first two races of the year and our money is again on the reigning world champion. In saying that, Ferrari has made a great start to the year—if the team can maintain form, it will be a strong contender for the 2024 season, including this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

Don’t dismiss Aston Martin, either. Fernando Alonso enjoyed third place at last year’s Melbourne Grand Prix, and after 18 seasons and over 300 Grands Prix, he knows this track exceptionally well.

Formula 1 Melbourne
Getty


The Biggest On-track Rivalry Is…

Right now, it’s arguably Red Bull and Mercedes. The latter will want to win at all costs in 2024, including this weekend’s race after missing out on what should have been two podiums in 2023. Do they have the car to go head-to-head with Red Bull, however? With 2024 being Lewis Hamilton’s last year at Mercedes, the 39-year-old will want to go out with a bang before joining rival team Ferrari in 2025.

As we move down the pack, the rivalry is just as strong, with the 2023 season proving there is very little margin between certain teams, like Alpine, Aston Martin and Williams.

Formula 1 Melbourne
Getty


Where Is the Best Place to Watch the Race?

According to the experts at F1.com, one of the best places to watch the race in all its glory is Brabham Grandstand on the outside of Turn 2—it’s here you’ll watch the cars battle it out for position through to the first chicane. Alternatively, if you’re lucky enough to secure a Paddock Club pass—often ritzy hospitality suites for VIP guests that overlook the team garages and fronts the straight—you’ll enjoy unrivalled views of all the pitstop action, team commotion and the winner’s grin, up close and personal.

But There’s Plenty of Action Across the Track, Right?

Indeed! If you’re looking to explore everything the Australian Grand Prix has to offer—and not just racing—you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a lot to see and experience at this year’s Melbourne GP. Starting with the Fan Zone, where you can enjoy the best of Melbourne’s renowned hospitality offerings, as well as art and entertainment. For post-race entertainment, M-Lane is where you’ll find some of Australia’s best music acts performing well into the night, like JET and The Presets.

If you’re a Ferrari fanatic, there’s no going past Casa Ferrari located near the Pit exit. This luxury destination offers three levels of trackside viewing including a designated rooftop terrace with unparalleled access to both the F1 race and the world of Ferrari. It’s also a place for owners and guests to immerse themselves in the world of Ferrari lifestyle. As a spectator, you’ll likely get a glimpse of exclusive vehicles on display, like the new Ferrari SF90 XX Stradale.

Across the circuit on Turn 10, you will find the re-imagined Mercedes-AMG Lounge. With uninterrupted views of one of the fastest and most thrilling corners of the circuit, guests can revel in the renowned Mercedes-Benz hospitality and style. Tickets can be purchased here.

Casa Ferrari

For more information ahead of this weekend’s event, visit Australian Grand Prix and be sure to follow @robbreportau for all your F1 coverage.

 

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The Boldest, Most Exciting New Timepieces From Watches & Wonders 2024

Here are the highlights from the world’s biggest watch releases of the year.

By Allen Farmelo, Carol Besler, Paige Reddinger, Oren Hartov, Victoria Gomelsky, Cait Bazemore, Nick Scott, Justin Fenner 10/04/2024

Watches & Wonders, the world’s largest watch show, is in full swing in Geneva. The highly anticipated cascade of new releases is marked by confident individual brand identities — perhaps a sign that watchmakers are done scrambling through the violent collision of restricted supply and soaring demand for high end watches. All seem to be back on solid footing.

Steady confidence is a good thing. Consider Jaeger-LeCoultre offering up traditionally styled grand complications or Vacheron Constantin revamping the classic Patrimony with smaller cases and vintage-inspired radially brushed dials. Consider TAG Heuer celebrating the 55th anniversary of the square Monaco with a skeletonized flyback confidently priced at US$183,000, or Moser similarly showing off a fascinating skeletonized tourbillon in its distinctive 40 mm Streamliner at US$86,900. IWC has leaned hard into their traditionally styled Portugieser line, including an astounding Eternal Calendar complication. We find the storied French houses of Cartier, Chanel and Hermes blurring the lines between jewelry and watchmaking with the technical prowess and artistic whimsy that originally earned these brands their exalted place in the hearts and minds of sophisticated aesthetes. Confidence abounds in 2024.

We could go on and on with examples, but the watches below will demonstrate that for 2024 the big watch brands dared to be themselves, which appears to have given them the confidence to take some seriously compelling horological risks. We have separate coverage of off-show releases and, of course, Patek and Rolex, so keep and eye out for those.

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A Gucci Garden Blooms in Sydney

On a rainy Sydney night, the drinks talent from Maybe Sammy mixed with guest bartenders from Giardino 25 in Florence, for a night of liquid magic.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 13/04/2024

Since hanging out its shingle in 2022, Giardino 25, the all-day café and bar located in Gucci’s palatial, multidisciplinary space in Florence, has been a boon to stylish tipplers. Taking inspiration from one of its previous tenants (a longstanding florist), the garden-themed joint (Giardino is the Italian word for garden) serves delicious aperitivi and dangerously addictive cocktails.

 

Umbrian native Martina Bonci is in hair-to-brogue Gucci for her artful bartending session at El Primo Sanchez. 
Aurora cocktai at Giardino 25, Florence.

Giardino 25 took bloom this past Tuesday at a pop-up at El Primo Sanchez in Paddington. The Maybe Cocktail Festival in Sydney is a series of 20 events scattered throughout the city curated by the award-winning Sammy’s Cocktails team. The festival aims to spur knowledge-sharing and foster excellence in Australia’s drinks scene.

“Last year we held 16 events and they were all packed,” says Stefano Catino, director of hospitality at Public, the management company behind Maybe Sammy venues and bottled drinks, “so this year we’ve curated extra events and flown out even more international bars and bartenders.”

“Nineteen of the 21 events are free to attend, which is very important to us,” he continues. “The cost of living is high, and it’s very expensive for Australians to travel overseas, so this festival allows people to drink cocktails from an amazing bar in Rome or try a Tommy’s Margarita from the gentleman who created it without the cost of a plane ticket.”

Dressed head to toe in Gucci,  and using the bar as her personal catwalk, Giardino 25’s special guest, Martina Bonci, looked every bit the star behind the bar. “We have brought our mix of classic Italian influences and innovation,” she told Robb Report, “so guests in Australia get a little slice of what we do in Florence.”

Among her tantalising pours were powerful dirty martinis decorated with shimmering gold leaf and Aurora, a transparent twist on the Negroni.

Reflecting on her whirlwind trip down under, Bonci said their visit to Bondi Beach and the cocktails at Maybe Sammy were the highlights.

“The bartenders at Maybe Sammy are world-class,” she explained. “There is a good reason they win awards and have a respected reputation overseas. And El Primo Sanchez has such a fun atmosphere—we had a great night.”

Martina Bonci, Bar Manager at Gucci Giardino 25, has been honored twice as ‘Best Bartender in Italy’ by both the Bargiornale and Blue Blazer Awards. 

Bonci, who came to prominence in a long string at Milanese hipster joint Gesto and is known for her use of agave, favors drinks dripping with seasonal fruits and citrus flavors. Having tried her creations, we do, too.

She made a serious impression on Sydneysiders, who would do well to make a pilgrimage to see her in action on home turf. As if any of us need another reason to visit Italy.

The Maybe Cocktail Festival, continues this weekend in Sydney, with the public welcome to attend a Bartenders Brunch at Sydney’s Alpha on Sunday from 11.00 am – 3.00 pm, hosted by George Calombaris. 

View the program: Maybe Cocktail Festival @maybe_cocktail_fetsival

All images courtesy of Gucci.

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Patek Philippe Brings Back Collector Favourites at Watches & Wonders 2024

Both the Nautilus Chronograph and Aquanaut Travel Time receive a welcome return.

By Josh Bozin 10/04/2024

If you’re a watch fan, there’s every reason to believe that a Patek Philippe Nautilus, Patek Philippe Aquanaut—or both—would be high on your wish list. Both collections are of historical significance, helping pave the way for the influence of the steel sports watch category—and subsequent chokehold on the market today.

So, when Patek Philippe unveiled its newest releases at Watches & Wonders in Geneva, it was a pleasant surprise to see the return of two of the best past iterations of the Nautilus and Aquanaut collections.

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph

First, we get a new Nautilus Chronograph, with the return of the revered 5980, now replete with a new case in white gold and a denim-like strap (a contentious issue among watch pundits). Discontinuing all Nautilus 5980 models earlier this year, including the collector-favourite 5980/1AR in Rose Gold, left a sombre feeling among Nautilus fanatics. These celebrated chronographs, renowned for their distinctive porthole-inspired design and air of sporty elegance, are some of the most sought-after watches in the Patek Philippe catalogue. Thus, the revival of the 5980, now in white gold, is a cause for collectors’ celebration.

The new offering retains its chronograph function with mono-counter tracking 60-minute and 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock on the dial, but now comes on a new denim-inspired, hand-stitched fabric strap with a Nautilus fold-over clasp in white gold—some will love it, some won’t.

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe

The Calibre CH 28‑520 C/522 powers this new Nautilus with its flyback chronograph, all of which is visible through the transparent sapphire crystal caseback. The dial is also incredibly eye-catching, with a beautiful opaline blue-gray hue accentuated by white gold-applied hour markers with a white luminescent coating. It is priced at approximately $112,000.

Also returning to the fold is the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time, now with its own bluish hue dial—similar to its Nautilus counterpart. After discontinuing the Aquanaut Travel Time 5164A this year, as well—a watch often regarded as the greatest Aquanaut to date—Patek Philippe surprised all with the new 5164G in white gold. Its greatest attribution is the clever Travel Time GMT function, which clearly rivals the Rolex GMT-Master II as perhaps the travel-friendly watch of choice (if acquiring one was that simple, of course).

For those who prefer the Aquanaut’s sportiness and easy-wearing rubber strap, this newest iteration, with its Opaline Blue-gray dial and matching rubber strap with a deployant clasp, is undoubtedly an icon in the making. The new 5164G has a 40mm case and features the Calibre 26‑330 S C FUS movement, which can also be viewed via the transparent sapphire crystal caseback.

Expect to pick up the new Aquanaut Travel Time for around $95,250.  

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time

 

Follow @robbreportau for all your Watches & Wonders coverage, and more!

 

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Rolex Kicks Off Watches & Wonders 2024 with a New GMT-Master II

The new stainless steel GMT-Master II has already been dubbed the “Bruce Wayne”.

By Josh Bozin 09/04/2024

It may not be the GMT that watch pundits were speculating on—or that collectors were hoping for—but the new Rolex GMT-Master II with a new grey and black ceramic bezel adds dazzle to the revered Rolex collection, which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary.

The idea of a new Rolex GMT launching at the world’s biggest watch fair is cause for a little madness. While the watch community eagerly awaited what was thought to be the discontinuation of the highly sought-after GMT “Pepsi” and the return of the GMT “Coke,” the luxury Swiss watchmaker had other plans.

Instead, we’re presented with a piece that, on paper, hasn’t changed much from previous GMT releases. That’s not to say that this isn’t an impressive release that will speak to consumers—the new GMT-Master II ref.126710GRNR, dubbed the “Bruce Wayne,” is definitely a sight for sore eyes.

Rolex
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This new GMT retains the same dimensions and movement as the other watches in the GMT collection, along with its 40mm size case and the option to fit either an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet. The obvious changes, albeit subtle, come in the way of its mostly monochrome return; a fact that will appease traditionalists. If you’re opposed to the attention-drawing “Pepsi”, “Sprite”, or “Batman” iterations, this model is a stealthier pick—much like pseudonymous Bruce Wayne.

The other noticeable change is the “GMT-Master II” now applied in green text and a 24-hour hand in green; perhaps a nod to the 2007 Basel World GMT release.

Like many Rolex timepieces, this will generate great hype and attention, so don’t expect allocations to come easily.

Rolex
Rolex

Model: GMT-Master II
Reference Number: 126710GRNR

Diameter: 40mm
Case Material: Stainless steel
Dial Colour: Black
Lume: Chromalight on hands and hour markers
Water Resistance: 100m
Bracelet: Oyster or Jubilee

Movement: Caliber 3285
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT
Power Reserve: 70 hours
Winding: Automatic

Price: $17,150 (Oyster); $17,500 (Jubilee)
Availability: Now. Non-limited edition

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Moments in Time

Silversea’s Kimberley adventures transport passengers into a different dimension.

By Vince Jackson 09/04/2024

Whoever refuted the theory of time-travel has clearly never set foot in the Kimberley, a geological relic where craggy landscapes forged hundreds of millions of years ago remain untouched, and dinosaur footprints are still etched into the ochre terrain. And while traversing one of the planet’s last great wildernesses in a 4X4 holds rugged appeal, a more refined way to explore the Western Australian outback is by cruise liner. 

Enter the Silver Cloud, one of Silversea’s most luxurious vessels, available for 10- or 17-day expeditions. Upon arrival via private executive transfer, expect a level of intimacy that’s often conspicuous on other cruise experiences. With a maximum of just 200 guests, attended to by 212 staff, the Silver Cloud can lay claim to the greatest passenger-to-crew ratios operating in the Kimberley. Twenty-four-hour butler service is standard for every suite, along with ocean views—no matter if you plump for a modest 22 m² Vista Suite or supersize to a 217 m² Grand Suite.

Yet bigger is not necessarily better on water; the ship itself is compact enough to manoeuvre into isolated coves and waterways that larger vessels—or, indeed, four-wheel-drive Land Cruisers—are unable access. Each sunrise brings the promise of an unforgettable adventure, whether hopping on a Zodiac at Koolama Bay to witness the cascading thunder of the 80-m-high, twin King George Falls, or embarking at Swift Bay to scramble over rocky standstone and view the disparate rock-art forms on display at the sacred Wandjina art galleries—some reckoned to be up to 12,000 years old.

Another example of the Kimberley’s ability to propel you back through time.

Prices from $15,500 pp (10 days) and $23,900 pp (17 days); June 9-19, and August 8-25 or August 25- September 11 respectively; silversea.com

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