By Mark Webber
F1 was a dream come true and to make my debut at my home Grand Prix with a team owned by a fellow Aussie, Paul Stoddart, made it all the more poignant. I was the first Australian driver since David Brabham in 1994 and so there was a lot of hype which I did my best to shut out.
Half of Queanbeyan came down and were seated in the main grandstand directly opposite the Minardi garage. Although it was great having such support, once I was in the car it was good for me to pretend the grandstands were empty and to treat this new scenario as a test session. How we got the result we did was nothing short of a miracle. It was a race of attrition and we managed to hang on in there and grabbed fifth place at the flag.
Afterwards was all a bit of a blur and slightly crazy! The team had a bit of a party and after that we met up with some of the Queanbeyan crowd and wandered around the Crown Towers/Casino complex looking for somewhere to go to celebrate. I remember we queued to get into a nightclub but we got rejected so we headed off. Word quickly reached the bouncers just who they had turned away and they came running after us saying it was okay for us to go in.
I told them where to go! In the end, we found an ice cream parlour that was open and then called it a day at 3am! So much for a big celebration!