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Up close at the Australian Grand Prix

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With ShoreTel coming on board as an Official Supplier for the UK-based Williams Martini Racing team in June last year, the 2014 Melbourne Grand Prix was the first chance for ShoreTel’s Australian team to be involved in the event. At this year’s race, we took a group of clients and partners from Australia and New Zealand out to the track for the Friday of the four-day event, which included the first practice sessions for the Formula 1® drivers.

The Melbourne Grand Prix is always special: it’s the first race for the year in the Formula 1 World Championship, so it’s the first time we get to see the changes each of the racing teams have made to their cars and racing teams, and the first opportunity to assess the performance of the drivers.

Left to right (above)
Geof Robinson – Telesmart, Phil Dockley – Mercury Marine, Craig Howe – ShoreTel, Marcus Lloyd – Ngati Porou, Greg Williams – Flexnet, Dean Letson – Telstra NA&S, Damien Calvert – Australian Ballet, Sohan Gunasekera – East Gippsland Shire Council

The location for the race is also a highlight, with its unique setting against Melbourne’s city skyline and the part-street, part-permanent circuit at Albert Park.

This year was made even more special with the debut of a new Australian F1 driver, Daniel Ricciardo. Even though he was driving for another team – Red Bull – we were quietly cheering him on!

As an Official Supplier during the 2013 and 2014 Formula One seasons, ShoreTel provides its industry-leading UC solutions across the entire Williams operations around the world including Williams Martini Racing and Williams Advanced Engineering. Our involvement happens at all the races, with our integrated communications facilitating the team’s on-track activities to ensure teamwork and collaboration among the drivers, pit crew, analysts and management.

Our group spent most of the day in the corporate suites known as “The Park,” located near the track between turns 12 and 13. Apart from the spectacular racing, it was a great day for our clients, our partners and our ShoreTel team, including ANZ Managing Director Jamie Romanin, to get to know each other better and to exchange ideas and experiences using ShoreTel solutions. In fact, our clients who were there on the day came away with a plan to set up a local ANZ user forum – a fantastic initiative.

There were some real highlights during the day: the RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornets doing a really low fly past; the crowd’s reaction to the new engines, technologies and rules introduced for the F1 this year; and the V8 and Porsche Carrera races and qualifying sessions.

However, the absolute highlight was going for a walk across to the main section of the track for a drink, to find ourselves standing ‘up close and personal’ just two or three metres away from the track as the F1 cars emerged from the pits and took off to start their practice laps.

While we didn’t get the opportunity to meet the Williams team drivers, it was an amazing experience for all of us to soak up the atmosphere of a Grand Prix and understand the incredible technology and expertise that is required to compete at that level. Most importantly, the event gave us the opportunity to build some really strong and positive relationships with key partners and clients in our region.

Looking forward to next year’s race!