What it's like to be a VIP at the Formula One Australian Grand Prix

Major sponsors have turned up the extravaganza for this year's Formula One Australian Grand Prix in their efforts to woo clients and flesh out invite lists with drawcard attendees.

Some are offering helicopter rides to Albert Park while others lure with menus designed by Australia's leading chefs.

Welcome to the VIP world of the Grand Prix where fast cars, grid girls in shorts (for the first time in history) and petrol heads will come together for a fanciful feast of golden glove treatment.

Start your engines

Last night's official launch party, Glamour on the Grid, was the invitation only cocktail themed event with a disclaimer that asks you to come dressed with a dash of gold. Held in The Lounge at Albert Park the premium soiree saw sponsors roll out the red carpet for the glamour set.

Rolex, Heineken, Sensis and Peter Rowland Catering combined budgets for an evening of fine dining in the collective hands of chefs including Guy Grossi and Shane Delia.

From Delia's cured kingfish preserved in lemon smoked pepper to Jacques Reymond's croque monsieur of gypsy ham, smoked sausage and French compote, guests experienced each chef's signature style in a roaming style menu. The sweets are designed by Darren Purchese of Burch & Purchese.

Laps of luxury

When it comes to the VIP suites at the track itself, you're flying high if you score an invitation to the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche pavilions.

Over four days The Mercedes Star Lounge will house a number of landmark Mercedes-AMG models to celebrate 50 years of brand including the Australian Premiere of the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S 4MATIC+.

Three hundred guests will be wined and dined here with food by the Atlantic Group. Shane Delia's Maha Café will be open in the lounge as well. VIP clients will be chauffeur driven to and from the event.


The engine room

At Porsche, a grazing menu takes place for VIPs and media guests. Choose from a tortilleria bar, an all-day deli menu to keep the motor running and a champagne bar that operates daily from 12-2pm. There's premium Italian gelato going around in the afternoon (look out for the cart) while a special treat is in store for the lads dubbed – the High Flier experience.

Porsche gents can choose to be whisked away in a private helicopter from Melbourne to the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit and greeted by various track ready Porsches to test drive under the guidance of Porsche Sport Driving School instructors. You can drive the new 718 Cayman, 718 Boxster and 911 GT3 RS and then be flown back to the GP site to watch the race from the Porsche Pavilion.

IWC Schaffhausen also host VIPs and media in the Silver Arrows Lounge of the Paddock Club. The invitation-only event comes with a gourmet dining experience, access to the pit lane at scheduled times plus a premium gift for making an appearance (a watch perhaps?).

VIP formula

Around 100 lucky guests will be in the McLaren Honda Formula One Suite each day during the GP. This private suite is catered for by Peter Rowland, drinks by Chandon and Johnnie Walker cocktails will also do the rounds – the Blue labels will be the one to watch.

Heineken also has a stake in the action with 150 guests visiting its exclusive area. Here it's all gourmet burgers by Huxtaburger and beer by Heineken, obviously.

Valentina Jovanska brings her magic touch to the GP – a dash of '80s powerhouse and modern styling to capture the luxury market that is fast cars –  for Glamour on the Grid in The Lounge at the Paddock Club.

Social set

Her team is also behind the Sensis Social Lab – another VIP only zone within the Paddock Club. She says it's the place to be this weekend and where celebrities and executives will enjoy top-notch hospitality and rooftop bar views of the track in this multi-tiered venue.

"The space is inspired by sexy cars, technology and engineering," says Valentina Jovanska of the design.

"We wanted to be innovative with the space and we've opened it up so those who are invited by the sponsors can mingle and roam around. It's about looking after the customer but also having a good time with high profile personalities if you're the one who makes the list of invitees," she says. "It's where everyone from Formula One drivers to celebrities will be coming through."

Click through the gallery above to see some of the famous faces who attended Glamour on the Grid.