PRIXVIEW – Australian Grand Prix

Prixview Testing & Race Reports

Round one of the 2018 season takes place in the Australian city of Melbourne. The circuit held its first Grand Prix as non-championship race in 1953 and became home to the Formula One race in 1995. Albert Park is a street circuit built around a lake, which has created drama and excitement.

The circuit has remained largely unchanged, however now runs anti-clockwise and is the only circuit to in the country to hold both a World Championship and non-World Championship race. The high-speed flowing circuit has been easy for drivers to learn.

However, as the first round of the season, you can expect crashes around the roads, retirements and action. The Australian Grand Prix was traditionally the final race of the season, seeing the championship decided, that changed in 1995-96 when the last round and the first round were held back to back.

Adelaide was the first place to hold a championship race which was popular with drivers and fans with a party atmosphere. That is something that Melbourne has managed to continue, as the first round of the season. The first F1 and fiftieth running of the race in 1985 was a two hour battle between Ayrton Senna and Keke Rosberg. Rosberg won the race as Senna retired in the last of the hybrid era. Rosberg’s son Nico would win the race the first of the new hybrid era twenty-nine years later in Melbourne.

The 1990 race took place against the backdrop of Senna’s controversial championship win in Japan. The champion led most of the race at took the victory. Senna won again in extremely wet and tricky conditions and the race was eventually stopped after fourteen laps the following year. With his last career, win coming in 1993.

More controversy would follow the following year, as Michael Schumacher crashed into title rival Damon Hill. Taking them both out and taking his first championship.

Melbourne became home to the race in 1996, with a dramatic start as Martin Brundle was launched into the air. The 2009 race remains memorable for two reasons, Jenson Button taking victory for Brawn on their debut, and the current winner and champion Lewis Hamilton was thrown out for lying about an incident with Jarno Trulli, leading to his disqualification.

Mercedes have won three out of four in the hybrid era, but last season Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel took a surprise win. 2018, is once again shaping up as Mercedes v Ferrari, with Red Bull not being far behind. But who will win down under?

Facts and figur

Race 2018 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix
Venue Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Albert Park, Victoria
Circuit Length 307.574km (191.071 mi)
Laps 58
Race Distance 307.574km
Lap Record 01:24.125 Michael Schumacher, F2004, 2004
Most wins drivers Lex Davison (4)

Michael Schumacher (4)

Most wins manufacture McLaren (12)

Fast facts

  • No Australian has won a World Championship Grand Prix since the race became part of the championship in 1985. The best result from an Australian at Albert Park was Mark Webber’s fourth place in 2012.
  • It takes an estimated 290,000 man-hours to assemble the circuit every year
  • The last driver other than Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel to qualify on pole in Australia was Jenson Button in 2009.
  • Four current drivers (Hamilton, Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso) have won the race.
  • Jacques Villeneuve scored three firsts on his debut in 1996, maiden pole, second place and maiden podium. While Hamilton scored third place and maiden podium, in 2007
  • Albert Park has two DRS zones between turn sixteen and one, two and three, four

Event timetable

Session Local GMT BST
Friday
P1 12:00-13:30 01:00-02:30 N/A
P2 16:00-17:30 05:00-06:30 N/A
Saturday
P3 14:00 03:00-04:00 N/A
Qualifying  17:00 06:00-07:00 N/A
Sunday *
Race 16:10 N/A 07:10

*Clock change to BST Sunday 25th March

What happened in 2017?

Sebastian Vettel took the lead of the race after putting pressure Lewis Hamilton through the early part of the race, taking the lead when the Mercedes made his first stop. That left Hamilton stuck behind the Ferrari and his tyres began to wear away trying to past Max Verstappen, leaving him unable to attack Vettel.

It was a bad start for Daniel Ricciardo at his home race, missing the start and being three laps down. Things went from bad to worse as the Red Bull grounded to a halt at the halfway stage of the race.

What to watch for?

In winter testing Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull all looked evenly matched on circuit. However, Albert Park is a very different circuit because most of the year it is public roads and that means its bumpy and overtaking can be more difficult. But overtaking is easier than at some circuits.

Last year we had this trend develop at street circuits like Melbourne where Ferrari won in Melbourne, Sochi and Monaco in the early part of the season. So the question is ‘has Mercedes tamed the divaish tenancies of the car on street circuits?’ Melbourne will proved some answers but I believe we won’t have full answers until after Baku.

Red Bull are they in the mix too and obliviously Daniel Ricciardo at his home race can he get a good result? However, Melbourne hasn’t been great for him in the past with retirements, bad luck and disqualification. It’s also something of a home race for Brendon Hartley can he score his first points at the closest race to home in New Zealand.

2016 vs 2017 Race Data

  P1 Fastest P2 Fastest P3 Fastest Q1 Fastest Q2 Fastest Q3 Fastest Race Time Fastest Lap
2017 01:24.220 01:23.620 01:23.380 01:24.191 01:23.251 01:22.118  01:24:11.672 01:26.538
Diff -5.500 -15.221 -2.224 -1.124 -2.354 -1.719 -24:03.893 -2.459
2016 01:29.725 01:38.841 01:25.624 01:25.315 01:25.605 01:23.837 01:48:15.565 01:28.997

Data Profile

A lap of Albert Park

Lewis Hamilton comes across the line and he breaks just at the marshal post and slows to 173kph for turn one, before putting his foot down for a bit knowing entry to two isn’t far he hits the outside kerb. Then goes across the corner running to the inside then crosses back across the track heading for four.

He turns in hitting the middle off the corner at 100kph before running to the outside running parallel with the kerb before going to the inside for five running along the kerb. He then crosses back to the outside then aims down the centre of the track. Through the kinks then hits apex of seven running to the outside.

Back to the outside carrying speed along the straight and through the kink. Breaks just after exiting for eleven and hits the apex at 122kph and in third gear. Back to the outside on exit where he runs along the middle of the track before breaking for twelve through the next corner at 255kph. He runs along the kerb and outside.

Through the kink then breaks at 150m board for fourteen. Through nicely good also through fourteen into fifteen from the inside goes to the outside hitting the apex running briefly along the inside quick change to the outside then back to inside. Runs through the corner and all away along over the line and a 01:22.188.

Tyres

Driver

Team Ultrasofts Supersoft Soft
L. Hamilton Mercedes 9 3 1
V. Bottas 9 2 2
S. Vettel Ferrari 7 3 3
K. Raikkonen 7 3 3
D. Ricciardo Red Bull – Tag Heuer 8 3 2
M. Verstappen 8 3 2
S. Perez Force India – Mercedes 8 3 2
E. Ocon 8 3 2
S. Sirotkin Williams – Mercedes 9 3 1
L. Stroll 9 2 2
F. Alonso McLaren – Renault 7 4 2
S. Vandoorne 7 4 2
P. Gasly Toro Rosso –Honda 8 3 2
B. Hartley 8 3 2
R. Grosjean Haas – Ferrari 8 4 1
K. Magnussen 8 3 2
N. Hulkenberg Renault 7 4 2
C. Sainz 7 4 2
M. Ericsson Sauber – Alfa Romeo 8 3 2
C. Leclerc 8 2

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.