TO attend the Australian Grand Prix for any F1 fan is a thrill. But not only was Mattie Michael able to attend the Grand Prix last weekend, he was one of the lucky few given the opportunity to volunteer at F1’s first race of the year.
Hundreds of volunteers at the race – race marshals, car park guides, information assistants – are given a complimentary lunch on behalf of F1. And Mattie, a 24-year-old with autism, was at the forefront of the lunchtime action, given the task of bar coding – scanning each lunch pack to ensure the marshals received their well-earned break.
“When F1 is in your blood, what more could you wish for than to be in on the action and genuinely contribute to it all,” Mattie’s mum, Bev, told The AJN.
“When your wish is granted with the opportunity to work as part of the F1 team, it’s a dream come true.”
It was thanks to the efforts of The AJN and Premier Daniel Andrews’ office that Mattie was interviewed by the F1 office who recognised his love for the sport and his strengths to work with and around similar minded people.
“He loved the camaraderie, he was ‘one of the family’,” Bev said. “He spoke the ‘same language’. What a cohesive, bonded team he was privileged to join.”
An avid fan of the sport, Mattie has been passionate from the age of two, memorising each Grand Prix date, transfixed in front of the television, watching all things motor racing.
Premier Daniel Andrews said it was wonderful for a passionate fan to be in the middle of all the excitement of the Grand Prix.
“I’m so pleased we were able to help Mattie experience his dream job for a day on the track and he can be so proud of his efforts,” the Premier told The AJN.
“Victoria is the sporting capital of our nation and the Grand Prix one of our prized events – but it wouldn’t be possible without the many people like Mattie who help make it happen.”
The day couldn’t have finished any better for Mattie who watched his hero, Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, take out the race in front of the Melbourne crowd.
“I was happy Sebastian Vettel won,” Mattie told The AJN.
“[Lewis] Hamilton was pole position, but Vettel was too good.”
Being so close to the action, Mattie said “It was fantastic. I worked with cool people. I had a lot of fun.”