Aus GP forced to impose crowd capacity limit

Jon Wilde
Fans behind the barrier at the Australian GP. Melbourne March 2020.

Fans line up behind the barrier at the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne March 2020.

Australian Grand Prix organisers have ruled out the prospect of a record crowd for this year’s race – because of a national labour shortage.

Formula 1 fans in Melbourne have been starved of action since 2019 as the last two events at Albert Park were cancelled due to the pandemic, the 2020 edition shortly before the cars were due to take to the circuit for opening practice.

Thankfully, the race is back on the schedule this season, although not in what had become its traditional curtain-raising slot – instead, it takes place over the weekend of April 8-10 on a circuit that has been revamped in places.

With plenty of pent-up demand for F1, tickets have been selling fast and an attendance record for the event as a whole remains possible with Saturday and Sunday already a sell-out.

However, the biggest race-day crowd of 154,000, set in 1996 when the grand prix first arrived in Melbourne having previously been held in Adelaide, will not be surpassed because a capacity limit has been imposed.

That is to ensure everything passes off smoothly due to a shortage of labour resources that is being felt all around Australia.

“We expect to have one of the biggest aggregate crowds in the history of the event,” said Andrew Westacott, CEO of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, quoted by

“We won’t surpass the opening round numbers in 1996 of 154,000, but we expect to have about the second or third highest attendance on a Sunday, possibly the highest attendance on a Saturday and a Friday.

“Maybe that also moves into Thursday as well as we move closer to the event.”

In regard to the labour shortage, what Westacott is eager to avoid is a repeat of the huge queues for food and drink that were seen at an Aussie rules match in Melbourne last week.

“In recent discussions with our three hospitality providers, we are okay at the moment [in terms of staff numbers],” he added.

“But as the numbers are going up, normally we would have the recruitment of the workforce completed by now, 16 to 20 days out.


“What we are finding now is the recruitment is going all the way up to the event. Hence the reason why we are capping the attendances at 125,000-130,000 level, [so] the experiences we’ve got will be first class.

“We want to make sure the service deliveries are to the world-class standards expected of Formula 1 and expected by every Melburnian.”