Contributors: Alistair Hunter, John Myburgh
Formula 1 2013 Round 1 – Melbourne Circuit:
The Rolex Australian Grand Prix is held on the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, street circuit located three kilometers south of the central business district of Melbourne around Albert Park Lake. The circuit is also referred to as Albert Park by most people in Formula 1.
The race was announced in 1993 after campaigning by the government and local businessman Ron Walker to move the race from Adelaide to Melbourne. The capital of Victoria looked to showcase itself to the world, and as their Olympic bid was unsuccessful for 1996 in comparison to Sydney’s successful 2000 campaign.
Therefore they were looking at the Formula One race as a way of complimenting the appeal of other major sporting events in the city such as the Melbourne Cup horse race, the Australian Open tennis tournament, and the AFL Grand Final (described as Australia’s most important sporting event in 2006).
While it is often claimed that money does come in due to the large numbers of people attending the race weekend, opponents have cited that the money would be better spent on other things. They argue that the benefits of hosting the race are much smaller than previously considered as accurate attendance numbers are not available.
Having said that, a claimed 120,000 spectators attend on race day in the hope of an Australian victory at Albert Park and up to 2012 this has not happened yet. Will Red Bull deliver a car for Mark Webber this year or could Daniel Ricciardo spring a surprise and win the race in a Torro Rosso?
Circuit in Numbers:
A 5.303 kilometer circuit runs clockwise around Albert Park Lake, and consists of 16 corners – 10 right hand corners and 6 left hand corners. This prompts the cars to undergo 56 gear changes per lap and to be driven at full throttle for 65% of the lap.
Maximum speeds of around 300 kilometers per hour are expected on the main straight, while the average speed is closer to 225 kilometers per hour.
A lap with Mark Webber:
Pirelli and Melbourne 2013
“After 12 days of pre-season testing we finally get to go racing with our 2013 compounds. They were developed over the course of the last season in private testing and they are the most focussed and performance-orientated tyres we have ever made. Cold weather conditions during pre-season testing meant that we weren’t able to showcase them to the best of their abilities, but we are expecting a different story in Albert Park, with two to three pit stops per car.
The start of any new season is always a very exciting time and from what we have observed during pre-season testing the field seems to be closer than ever: quite an achievement when you consider that we had seven different winners from the first seven races last year.
All the compounds and constructions have changed for 2013, and the drivers should notice a wider working range and a bigger window of peak performance. The performance gaps between the compounds are also larger, which means that teams have a greater opportunity to use strategy to their advantage by exploiting the consequent speed differentials.”
The tyre from a circuit point of view:
With all the compounds having become softer this year, the medium and the supersoft were chosen in Australia to give the teams a challenge in terms of tyre management and strategy, in accordance with Pirelli’s brief from the teams themselves and Formula One’s promoters.
The P Zero White medium tyre is ideal for circuits with lower ambient temperatures and not particularly aggressive asphalt, such as Melbourne. Its durability characteristics are very similar to those of last year’s soft tyre, resulting in lap times that are around 0.8s quicker than the 2012-specification medium.
The P Zero Red supersoft has been designed to come up to temperature quickly and it is ideal when it comes to delivering maximum performance instantly on a twisty and slow-speed circuit. Last year, the medium and soft compounds were chosen for the Australian Grand Prix, with the top seven drivers adopting a two-stop strategy.
Interpreting the tyres for Melbourne
Acceleration and braking are the keys to a good performance in Melbourne, with the longitudinal forces at work on the tyres being greater than the lateral forces. The improved combined traction of the P Zero tyres this year marks a significant step forward in this area.
Melbourne has hosted a number of wet races in the past: last year’s Friday’s free practice sessions were held in wet weather. Pirelli is bringing a new-specification of Cinturato Green intermediate and Cinturato Blue full wet tyre to Australia, which has a redesigned construction to help improve traction and prevent snap oversteer
The left-rear tyre works hardest in Melbourne, with 10 right-hand corners and six left-hand corners.
Albert Park circuit is not used outside of the Australian Grand Prix, which means that it is extremely ‘green’ and slippery on Friday in particular. But the faster warm-up time of Pirelli’s 2013 tyres should help drivers find grip more quickly.
Expected tyre behaviour in 3D:
Race Facts and Statistics:
The winner of the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne has gone on to become World Champion in the same season on 11 occasions, a figure equally matched by the number of drivers starting from pole position who became World Champions in the same season (65%). The winning constructor in Melbourne has gone on to win the Constructors Championship in the same season on 12 occasions (71%).
There are only 3 people who have won multiple races at Albert Park; Michael Schumacher (4), Jenson Button (3), and David Coulthard (2), while the most successful teams are McLaren and Ferrari with 6 victories each. 9 of the drivers who started from pole position have gone on to win the race (53%).
On average, 42% of drivers starting the race have not been classified (including disqualifications) as finishers.
David Coulthard honored a pre-race agreement with team mate Hakkinen in 1998 by switching position with two laps to go which allowed the Finn to win. In 2002 Michael Schumacher won the race after eleven drivers retired on the opening lap!
This race was also Mark Webber’s début in Formula 1 where he managed to bring his Minardi home in 5th place, scoring the team’s first points in three years and no doubt made his Australian team owner Paul Stoddart very happy!
Lewis Hamilton became the first driver to finish on the podium at his début race for 11 years in 2007, while the 2009 edition saw Brawn GP get the first one-two finish for a team making their début since Mercedes in 1954 French Grand Prix
The 2013 race will be the 19th edition of the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne as part of the Formula One World Championship, and the twentieth Australian Grand Prix to be held at Albert Park after including the two non-championship races held in 1953 and 1956.
Ever since it moved from Adelaide in 1996, it has occupied the first slot on the calendar for all but two seasons.
The event will be supported by the second round of the Australian Porsche Carrera Cup and four non-championship V8 Supercar races, making Albert Park one of five Formula One World Championship tracks that have also held (or are scheduled to hold) V8 Supercar races. The others are the Adelaide Street Circuit, the Bahrain International Circuit, the Yas Marina Circuit, and the Circuit of the Americas (from 2013).