58 young Karting Australia licence holders enjoyed the opportunity of a lifetime at the 2018 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne last week.
These drivers and a parent were guests of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and Formula 1 with the youngsters enjoying the opportunity to be on the circuit as a part of the pre-race entertainment immediately prior to the start of the race.
The ‘Grid Kids’ dotted the grid from front to back with some holding the National Flag of a drivers, others marking the grid and some standing in front of the current crop of drivers as the national anthem was being sung.
Of this group, 20 of the children were fortunate to be inside the exclusive F1 Paddock area where they received the opportunity to mingle with their idols and gain some autographs.
As a part of the FIA Future Formula 1 Stars, this group of youngsters became the first in the world to be given a Formula 1 racing suit thanks to Liberty Media, Formula 1 Management and Puma along with a look behind the scenes in the Formula 1 paddock.
Several of the children were also a part of several media interviews in the lead up to and during the Grand Prix with interviews being conducted on Radio 3AW, Channel Ten’s The Project, Seven News Melbourne and even BBC Radio in England.
The excitement shown by these kids throughout the day was infectious for all around – including the F1 drivers – while creating memories that will last with the kids for a lifetime.
“What’s happened here this weekend has strengthened our bond as a family towards racing. I’ve always loved Formula 1 since I was six, so to be up close like this has been incredible for the kids,” said Barbara Anagositiadis, mother of Grid Kids Aiva and James.
“Racing is much more a family sport, it’s not the absence of the grid girls but F1 has evolved over the last few years and having these kids on the grid here in Melbourne certainly resonates with a much wide audience.
“(Fernando) Alonso actually turned to my son after the national anthem, asked him when his next race was and wished him luck, that is something James will never forget.”
Likewise 10-year old Aiva was blown away by the experience.
“It was an amazing experience, we get stand on the grid and be up close to the Formula 1 drivers,” said Aiva.
“I used to dance, now it’s all about racing karts and today has been unbelievable.”
When Brad Majman was four years old he watched his Dad race karts, mostly at Todd Road and Oakleigh. His room is filled with pictures of Michael Schumacher, Monaco, Senna and lots of trophies from karting.
On Sunday, he was able to not only be up close to his idols but also meet race winner Sebastian Vettel, who took the time out in between the podium and media conference for the youngster.
Ironically, it is understood that the Victorian Government ‘red tape’ almost put the experience in jeopardy in the days leading up to the event. It was only the commitment by the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and Karting Australia staff that worked around the clock for two days to complete a mountain of last minute paperwork that the government required to be completed.