Albert Park, home of Formula One’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, is getting a makeover. The race normally opens the season but has been rescheduled due to COVID-19 concerns in the country, which means that scheduled resurfacing will be taking place sooner rather than later. And with that is coming a change to the track layout.
The first phase of the changes have already taken place, with the pit lane widened. Now, we’ll be getting into the second phase, where the significant changes will be taking place. I’ll run you through the areas where the biggest alterations are happening and what you can expect from them.
- Turns 1, 3, and 6. These will be widened on the inside in the hope that it’ll create more racing lines.
- Turn 9/10 complex. Instead of a hard braking zone followed by a tight right-hand curve, this section will be entirely replaced to make for a more smoothly flowing transition between turns.
- Turns 11 and 12. These corners will remain largely similar, but drivers will be able to take them faster because the entry speed will be higher. This could theoretically make entry into Turn 13 trickier, since you have to brake hard just before it. There’s a chance this could become a solid place to overtake. There should be multiple racing lines here in the future.
- Turn 13. This turn will be altered to have a wider entry with additional camber. Again, the plan is to offer more space for cars to run side-by-side and possibly overtake one another.
- Turn 15. Widening will also take place here, this time to make it harder for drivers to defend their position from a driver as they head into the final sector.
Basically, the plan is to give the whole track a slight overhaul that will hopefully make for more interesting racing.
Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott told Motorsport.com:
The track was put down in 1995 so therefore it’s extremely dated, not only from a surface point of view, but the cars have evolved. The track itself has been subject to, what I’ve called, a level of evolution and review.
We wanted to provide opportunities to reward brave driving and provide opportunities to penalize sloppy or poor driving.
To get a real overtaking opportunity the simulations from Formula 1 indicated that by getting a greater level of speed into Turn 13 and changing the geometry of the turn slightly, that might provide a legitimate overtaking opportunity. It also makes Turn 11 and 12 more challenging, which is a wonderful complex that the drivers love.
In essence, the committee consulted with both former F1 driver Mark Webber and with the FIA itself to come up with a solid plan for track upgrades in order to prevent “processional” racing. If it goes to plan, it should make for one hell of a fun race.
While the restructuring could start as early as Monday, resurfacing will take place after the November race should that go ahead. The track will be receiving a more “aggressive” asphalt, according to Motorsport.com, which likely means that it’ll be harder on tires.