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! [[2019 Australian Grand Prix|2019]]

Latest revision as of 02:49, March 13, 2020

Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, also called Albert Park, is a racing circuit in Melbourne, Australia, and is the current home of the Australian Grand Prix. The circuit runs clockwise in a park in downtown Melbourne.

HistoryEdit

Racing at the Melbourne Street Circuit started in the 1950s roughly on the plan of the modern circuit. Racing there ended when problems regarding racing in public parks came up. However, the circuit was rebuilt in 1996 with several changes: the direction of travel was reversed; the Jaguar Curve looped off and replaced with the Sports Centre Esses; the Chicane on the back stretch was axed in favour of a kink; the Clark Chicane was added; and the circuit's front straightaway was moved away from the lake in the infield. The race was plagued by environmental issues that reduced the usability for the park. Despite this, racing has thrived there. Albert Park is a well-liked circuit among drivers for its fast flowing layout, although the difficulty in passing remains a concern.

LayoutEdit

1953Edit

MelbourneCircuit1950s

The first track was laid out around Lake Albert, a shallow former estuary that became a lake after the city of Melbourne filled in the path to the sea. The track was laid out in the parkland that surrounded the lake, running counter-clockwise and measuring 5.027 km/3.124 miles in length. The course started near the north end of a road called Aughtie Drive, and followed it for a gently winding 1.2km that was functionally a long straightaway. Near the south end of the lake, the course made a moderately tight 90° left (Melford Corner) onto Ross Gregory Drive. The cars went straight for 14km before a sweeping, 80° left (Austin Healey Corner) onto Lakeside Drive. After a short squirt the cars made a tight left-right at a roundabout (Powerhouse Corner, named for the nearby watering hole for the rowing crowd), then set off on the wide and gently bending drive. Over the course of almost 1.5 km, the cars made a gentle 70° left, followed by slight bend to the right, and after another 14km straight they took a very long, 45° right, taken flat out by the bravest souls. After a 12km straight, the cars slowed for a sweeping 110° left (Lucas Corner), and found themselves on Albert Road Drive. Following this for about 23km, with a quick left bend in the middle, the cars reached the slowest turn on the course. This was a 100° sharp left (Jaguar Corner), just before the start/finish line. The pits were of a temporary nature, just past start/finish on driver's left. The races were quite popular, but the organizers had issues with local opposition, crowd control, safety and damage to the park. After the 1958 events, the races ceased.

1996Edit

1996 brought the F1 Grand Prix to Melbourne, at the expense of Adelaide. The new organizers started with the same basic layout as existed in the 1950s, but with considerable updating, and having made great efforts to get the local populace on their side.

They started with reversing the direction of travel. The old start/finish and pit locations were completely unsuitable, so an entirely new section was created from scratch. The old Melford Corner was now renamed Stewart and led onto a 14km straight, part of the old Aughtie Drive. The cars then hit a very tight 110° left (named Senna) and had an even shorter straight before making a sweeping 90° right (Prost) onto the new start/finish straight. Pit in is also on driver's right between Senna and Prost.

The new start/finish straight is 12km long, cresting a slight rise towards the middle. Pit out is about 34 of the way down, making for some entertaining merging going into the first corner, especially when you consider that this is the only realistic passing spot on the track. This corner is a tight 75° right (Jones) leading immediately onto a faster sweeping 75° left (Brabham), rejoining the old Aughtie Drive. (The old section of road survives as a pedestrian/bicycle path.)

Just before the old pits, the modern track makes a tight 120° right (called Sports Centre, for the massive gymnasium and recreation complex to driver's left), deviating from the old track for some distance. Partly because of the very close barriers, this corner has been the site of many a failed overtaking move, and the expense of some bumps and bruises, and a great deal of carbon fiber. The surviving cars squirt up a short straight to a wider 75° left (Hellas, for the football team that plays nearby). As this corner is in a parking lot, runoff and barriers are not a concern here.

Another short straight leads to a fast, 45° right (Whiteford) and puts the cars onto the modern Albert Road Drive. Almost 12km of acceleration ends with a tight, 90° right (called Marina, which is odd, because the actual marina is some distance away) which puts the cars on Lakeshore Drive, and back on the old footprint. The old Lucas corner is now named Lauda, and partway along the straight after Lauda the cars traverse another tight right (Clark) and sweeping left (Fittipaldi) chicane, before entering the long sweeping left that is still unnamed after all these years.

The old gentle left/right after the Powerhouse chicane has been tightened somewhat, and named Waite. The following straight has a gentle right kink (Hill) and Powerhouse chicane is now gone (but the pub survives!). The old Austin Healey corner hos been renamed Ascari, but is almost identical to the original, allowing for safety mods. The short following straight has been straightened out slightly, and ends with Stewart corner.

Despite criticism for lack of passing opportunities, the track is unchanged for the 25 year run of the race here. The only variations are curb heights and pit road adjustments.

On 21 March 2018, the start/finish straight was named the Walker Straight, in honour of the late ex-Australian Grand Prix promoter Ron Walker.[2]

FutureEdit

The organizers have announced plans to analyze the track following the 2020 race, with the objective of increasing overtaking.

EventsEdit

YearWinning DriverWinning Constructor
Formula One Championship Events
2020 race cancelled
2019 Finland Valtteri BottasGermany Mercedes
2018 Germany Sebastian VettelItaly Ferrari
2017 Germany Sebastian VettelItaly Ferrari
2016 Germany Nico RosbergGermany Mercedes
2015 United Kingdom Lewis HamiltonGermany Mercedes
2014 Germany Nico RosbergGermany Mercedes
2013 Finland Kimi RäikkönenUnited Kingdom Lotus-Renault
2012 United Kingdom Jenson ButtonUnited Kingdom McLaren-Mercedes
2011 Germany Sebastian VettelAustria Red Bull-Renault
2010 United Kingdom Jenson ButtonUnited Kingdom McLaren-Mercedes
2009 United Kingdom Jenson ButtonUnited Kingdom Brawn-Mercedes
2008 United Kingdom Lewis HamiltonUnited Kingdom McLaren-Mercedes
2007 Finland Kimi RäikkönenItaly Ferrari
2006 Spain Fernando AlonsoFrance Renault
2005 Italy Giancarlo FisichellaFrance Renault
2004 Germany Michael SchumacherItaly Ferrari
2003 United Kingdom David CoulthardUnited Kingdom McLaren-Mercedes
2002 Germany Michael SchumacherItaly Ferrari
2001 Germany Michael SchumacherItaly Ferrari
2000 Germany Michael SchumacherItaly Ferrari
1999 United Kingdom Eddie IrvineItaly Ferrari
1998 Finland Mika HäkkinenUnited Kingdom McLaren-Mercedes
1997 United Kingdom David CoulthardUnited Kingdom McLaren-Mercedes
1996 United Kingdom Damon HillUnited Kingdom Williams-Renault
Non-championship Events
1955 United Kingdom Stirling MossItaly Maserati
1953 Australia Doug WhitefordFrance Talbot-Lago

NotesEdit

  1. Contracted to 2023
  2. "Walker Straight unveiled at Albert Park". Formula1.com. Formula One Administration. 21 March 2018. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/headlines/2018/3/walker-straight-unveiled-at-albert-park.html. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
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Circuits Adelaide Street Circuit (1985–1995) • Albert Park Circuit (1996–present)
Albert Park
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