Track Guide: Albert Park
Following a long winter without racing, Formula 1 returns this weekend as the 2014 season kicks off and a new era in the history of the sport begins. As is tradition, the season will get underway in Australia at Albert Park in Melbourne. A favourite among fans and drivers alike, this is one of the biggest races of the season.
Albert Park is defined as a medium-fast “street circuit”. It is in effect a proper race track, albeit one that carries a lot of dirt and oil from being used as a public road for 49 weeks of the year. As such, it doesn’t reveal its true character for a few days, so achieving an ideal setup can be tricky and requires patience. The circuit has 16 turns, multiple chicanes and actual straight, with the other back straight consisting of a sweeping left-hander that has seen numerous accidents (often resulting in safety cars).
The first corner has been the scene of many accidents over the years and many drivers have been a little greedy under braking only to lose valuable time on the exit and the crucial run to turn 3. Offering the first genuine overtaking opportunity, the swimming pool section at turn 3 is hard to get right as the next left hander requires a compromise in order to achieve a rhythm (and consequently balance) through the sweeping right-hander around Bob Jane Stadium.
A driver’s exit is crucial heading onto the back straight. Obviously the inside line is the quickest route through here, but you need to position the car to the right in order to negotiate what is one of the quickest and trickiest chicanes on the Formula One calendar.
Again, a good exit is rewarded with another overtaking opportunity into a hard-braking right-hander, followed by another medium-fast right-hander that requires a little lift of the throttle. Without lifting, drivers could find themselves compromised yet again when attempting to set the car up for the penultimate left-hand hairpin.
Get this right and you should get a slingshot along the final sweeping right-hander onto the main straight to complete a lap at Albert Park.
Circuit: Albert Park, Melbourne
Length: 5.303km/3.295 miles
Lap Record: Michael Schumacher 1:24.125 (2004)
Most Wins: Michael Schumacher (4)
1st – Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
2nd – Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
3rd – Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
Images courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari. Circuit graphic by Peter Leung.
Trent Price is an amateur race driver, former V8 race coach and FIA Accredited journalist from Melbourne, Australia. A former Race Editor for GP Week and contributor for ESPN, Trent is now the Editor of the WEC/Formula E magazine E-Racing; www.e-racingmag.com