As they woke up, revheads read European news reports that the event would likely be called off, but they remained hopeful because event organisers had said nothing of the sort.
About 9am, when a spectator ban was announced by the Premier, fans at the gate were confused, and they were angry.
A track official – who surely had the worst job in Melbourne today – broke the news to the fans at about 10.30am, as police numbers swelled.
“Thank you very much for your patience,” the official said into a megaphone. “Please be aware [the Australian Grand Prix Corporation] has been made aware of the cancellation of the event by Formula One.”
“We appreciate your understanding.”
But there was very little understanding and a great deal of booing instead.
“F*** the Formula One. We want our money back,” said one.
“Where’s the CEO Westacott? Get him out here to explain this shit to us,” said another.
Others were light-hearted: “I still want the race program magazine. Free programs for everyone surely?”
Many fans said they would have understood the decision to cancel the event for health reasons if it were made days earlier.
What really infuriated the fans was the total lack of communication. They were already in line, standing side by side for hours, potentially exposed to COVID-19.
“No racing, and we’re all bloody sick as well – awesome,” said a teenage Red Bull team fan.
For local enthusiasts like Sarah Harvey, it would be the first year since Melbourne nabbed the event from Adelaide that she would not attend an Australian Grand Prix.
“We’ve been badly let down. Without us, there’s no F1. To have no clear communication was terrible,” she said.
John Walker and Raphael Zink, who travelled from England and Germany respectively, booked their tickets to the event months in advance.
They have both dreamed of watching a race at Albert Park, which they consider to be one of the premier races on the Formula One calendar.
They’ve both spent thousands of euros on holidays based around their attendance at the event.
“It’s just not right for it to happen like this,” said Mr Walker, a Lewis Hamilton enthusiast. “We should have been informed earlier or it should have gone ahead.”
“It was a shambles just keeping us waiting here, somebody needed to come out and talk to us to explain this.”
Mr Zink said he didn’t know what he would do for the rest of his trip.
“I managed to get two weeks off work so I thought ‘let’s go to Melbourne’ … and now we are here,” said the Ferrari fan. “I’m pissed off.”
The clean-up began quickly after the announcement. By noon all the fans had deserted Albert Park.
Forklifts were pulling apart the fencing, seating and portable buildings so recently propped up around the track and race staff listened to an address by Grand Prix boss Andrew Westacott and chairman Paul Little in the upmarket bar usually filled with corporates and celebrities.
Down the road in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, the bars were suddenly filled with people in race gear drowning their sorrows. It wasn’t a party, more of a wake. Last drinks.
Paul is a reporter for The Age.