Grapevine: News from the Paddock - Australia

World Champion Michael Schumacher and his Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello headed down to St Kilda for what seems to have become a traditional Australian Grand Prix warm-up for the team's golden duo - a beach volleyball match with Australia's female Olympic champions. But while Schumacher was frolicking about in the sand with the bronzed bodied beach beauties in the Vodafone-organised event his brother Ralf was offered the less attractive proposition of an appointment at a Motor Show with his new Toyota team. Some guys get all the luck...

Slow Start

Schumacher and Barrichello were also dragged across town to another sponsors' do with oil company Shell. There is always an incentive to undertake these time-consuming events for the World Champion and his able accomplice were given a traditional offering in the shape of a didgeridoo. But there was much amusement as the event swung into action, even before the ill-advised musical efforts, when the world's fastest driver got stuck in traffic and was delayed by 30 minutes.

The Name's Bond...

BAR-Honda are never ones to miss a trick so they simply had to do something to celebrate the race debut of their sleek BAR 007. But with the new James Bond still yet to be named they were left in a bit of a pickle until four striking girls jumped into the breach - pop-charting string quartet Bond capitalising on their name to pose for photographers with the new machine. The group will also be performing as the main act at the Grand Prix Ball on Friday night and will play their hit single Explosive on the starting grid before Sunday's race.

Thursday Threshold

The opening day of the Australian Grand Prix event on Thursday, in which Williams test driver Antonio Pizzonia completed a few laps in a demonstration and several top support races began their weekend's competition, entered the record books this year. With free entry to general admission areas of Albert Park fans ensured first-day attendance reached an unprecedented level of 77,400.

Fastest Indian...

Narain Karthikeyan - "the fastest Indian in the world" - wasted no time at all in proving he is fast enough for Formula One as he took to the Albert Park track ahead of his race debut. Unfortunately, he did so in the pitlane and was fined a whopping $6,750 (US Dollars) for exceeding the pitlane speed limit in opening practice at a speed of 86.2km/h.

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Friday's Selected Quotes - Australian GP
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