The Rolex Australian Grand Prix is held on the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, street circuit located three kilometres 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 2013 this has not happened yet. Will Red Bull new boy Daniel Ricciardo deliver something special and take the chequered flag?
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.
DRS sectors will be the same as those used in 2013. Activation One is 762m before Turn One, Activation Two is 510m before Turn Three. They share a single detection point, located 13m before Turn 14.
Main challenges of Albert Park for the Power Units
The high number of low speed turns, which will put the focus on low speed driveability through correct turbo response. Heavy braking will also need effective engine braking from the ICE to support the new brake-by-wire system. Short bursts of acceleration between the turns compound the challenge, while massively increasing fuel consumption.
Main energy recovery points
Heavy braking will give opportunity for the MGU-K to cover energy, particularly in turns three and four and the last complex through turns 14, 15 and 16 coming back onto the straight and recovering as much energy as possible here is crucial to minimizing lap time. Short straights don’t give huge chances for the MGU-H to recover from the exhaust, but there are several of them so it should be sufficient to keep the battery charged.
One of the tougher races. Fuel consumption is the second highest of the year, and the mechanical challenges add to the difficulty – Melbourne is in the upper half of the table.
A lap with Lewis Hamilton
Pirelli and Melbourne 2015
The Australian Grand Prix circuit: a semi-permanent facility at Albert Park in Melbourne, where the soft and medium P Zero tyres have been chosen. There’s a slippery surface, low grip, high downforce and heavy braking: all of which increase the workload on the tyres.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Our fifth season of Formula One gets underway in Australia: one of the most exciting races of the year as it’s the start of a new season held at a venue that is always extremely challenging, popular and unpredictable.
Just like last year, we’ve nominated the medium and soft compounds, which cover the very wide range of usage conditions that are possible in Melbourne. The new rear structure increases traction and helps drivers get onto the power earlier: one of the factors that has led to faster lap times this year.
As always at the start of the season, there are big question marks about the pecking order and relative performance of the cars. All we know for sure is that performance will inevitably increase still further during the course of the year, which will naturally have an effect on the interaction between the cars and the tyres.
The behaviour of the tyres was in line with our expectations during pre-season testing, but of course you cannot really compare testing to real racing, with drivers pushing to the limit. That’s why this weekend in Melbourne is so eagerly anticipated by everyone.”
The biggest challenges for the tyres:
Albert Park took over the Australian Grand Prix from Adelaide in 1996. Being a semi-permanent track, the racing line is often ‘green’: dirty and slippery, especially at the start of the weekend. This increases wheelspin, which leads to a greater degree of tyre degradation. The torque of the new generation of turbo-hybrid engines accentuates this phenomenon.
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.
The left-rear tyre works hardest in Melbourne, with 10 right-hand corners and six left-hand corners. The asphalt is very smooth, which helps to extend tyre life, and the teams run high downforce. There are plenty of slow corners, putting the emphasis on mechanical grip from the tyres.
A good, potentially flexible, strategy and the ability to look after tyres well pay dividends in Australia, which is often affected by safety cars and unpredictable weather. Of the current competitors, Jenson Button is the most successful driver in Australia (with three wins), while McLaren is the most successful team with 11 wins (six equally with Ferrari at Melbourne).
￼Last year’s strategy and how the race was won: Nico Rosberg won the race for Mercedes from third on the grid (most of qualifying had been held in wet weather). Rosberg followed a soft-soft- medium strategy that was also used by the top nine finishers. Following an early safety car period, Rosberg made his first stop on lap 12 and his second stop on lap 38. The race lasts 58 laps.
Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 1.2-1.5 seconds per lap.
Melbourne with Brembo
Melbourne is an urban track that winds its way through the Albert Park streets. It is a fast track and quite demanding for the brakes. The 9 braking zones on the track are all medium-high level difficulty for the braking systems and are characterised by variable Stopping distance decelerations.
Because it is a non-permanent track, during the race weekend it is gradually rubberised, which causes an increase in deceleration and brake stress in terms of wear and temperature.
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
|2014||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||Albert Park|
|2013||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||Albert Park|
|2012||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||Albert Park|
|2011||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||Albert Park|
|2010||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||Albert Park|
|2009||Jenson Button||Brawn-Mercedes||Albert Park|
|2008||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes||Albert Park|
|2007||Kimi Räikkönen||Ferrari||Albert Park|
|2006||Fernando Alonso||Renault||Albert Park|
|2005||Giancarlo Fisichella||Renault||Albert Park|