Albert Park, located just a few miles south of central Melbourne, is the venue of the now traditional season opening Australian Grand Prix. The temporary street circuit sees the cars tear through the park, just inches from the surrounding walls.
|FIRST F1 RACE||1996|
|TRACK LENGTH||3.295 miles|
|NUMBER OF LAPS||58|
|NUMBER OF TURNS||16|
|MOST POLES||Lewis Hamilton (8)|
|MOST WINS||Michael Schumacher (4)|
The Australian Grand Prix was an event for many years before it became a part of the F1 World Championship. This event moved around tracks in Australia on a yearly basis. One non-championship Grand Prix with F1 machinery was held at Albert Park in 1956, albeit on a very different track to the current layout. The 1956 event was won by Stirling Moss, driving for Maserati. The Australian Grand Prix became a fixture on the F1 calendar in 1985, at Adelaide. The race was run successfully there for eleven seasons.
In 1993, negotiations began to bring the Australian Grand Prix to Melbourne and, after two years of preparations, Formula One took to the streets of a rebuilt Albert Park circuit for the first time for the first race of the 1996 season, much to the dismay of the ‘Save Albert Park’ group. The building of the circuit, even though temporary, required trees to be cut down and some facilities to be removed from the park. The deal was struck mostly thanks to Ron Walker, an Australian business man who held negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone. Following Walker’s death in January 2018, the main straight on the track was renamed the ‘Walker Straight’ in honour of the man who helped to bring the event to the city.
The Albert Park track is set around the man-altered lake, which is the centrepiece of the park. The track has been a favourite among fans for a long time, though opinion in recent years has shifted. While the track used to always promises an eventful opening round to a new season of Formula One, events in recent years have been somewhat processional. The circuit is essentially a street track, but is not as restrictive as Monaco, allowing for plenty of overtaking. The Grand Prix is well attended, as spectators get the first chance to see the new cars in action. Grandstands and corners are named after legendary Australian mostorsport figures such as Alan Jones, Jack Brabham and Mark Webber. A grandstand was renamed in 2016 in honour of Daniel Ricciardo. Though corner names are rarely used here, the last four corners of the track – Ascari, Stewart, Senna and Prost – are named after former F1 champions.
Albert Park was due to celebrate its 25th Formula 1 race in 2020, but the event was cancelled just hours before the scheduled start of Free Practice 1. Public health concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic saw the event called off. Prior to the cancellation of the event, McLaren announced their withdrawal from the race due to a team member testing positive for the virus. The start of the 2020 season was ultimately delayed by almost four months, and began in Austria in July.
The Albert Park track already held a contract to host the Australian Grand Prix until 2023 and this was extended in July 2019. The event will continue to be held at the track until 2025.
?? FAST FACTS
- It takes around four weeks for Albert Park to get ready for Formula 1’s annual visit. The tyre barriers, fencing and grandstands are all put up in this time as the park prepares for the pinnacle of motorsport to descend on Melbourne. After the race, it takes two weeks for the park to revert to its normal functioning.
- The 1996 Australian Grand Prix followed on immediately from the 1995 Australian Grand Prix. The 1995 event had been at the end of the season, at Adelaide, and the 1996 Australian Grand Prix was the season opener – the first to be held in Melbourne. Until 2020, this was the last time that two successive F1 races had been held in the same country.
- With few long corners at this track, it can be difficult for drivers to warm their tyres properly.
- Mark Webber finished fifth in his home Grand Prix for Minardi in 2002. He and team owner Paul Stoddart took to the podium after the official procedures to celebrate his achievement with the Australian crowd.
- The longest straight here is 860 metres long.
- Formula 1, and the support races, are the only events this track is used for all year, meaning that despite the roads being used year round by the public, the track is often dusty and offers low grip at the start of the weekend.
- 70% of a lap at Albert Park is spent at full throttle.
- The original Albert Park track used in the 1950s was run anti-clockwise.
- There has never been a night race here, but the 2009 event began at 5pm as the sun was setting. The race has never been run as late again due to visibility concerns.
- Turn Three has seen notably large accidents over the years. In 1996, Martin Brundle flipped his car by driving into the back of David Coulthard’s McLaren. Similarly in 2016, Fernando Alonso suffered a violent crash when he misjudged the braking point and clattered into the back of Esteban Guiterrez’s Haas car. In 2001, Graham Beveridge, a marshal, was killed by a flying tyre from Jacques Villeneuve’s car.
- Over the course of the Australian Grand Prix, the drivers will make around 3,190 gear changes.
?? 2019 AUSTRALIAN GP RECAP
Despite the pre-season hype for Ferrari domination, Lewis Hamilton clocked up an eighth Australian Grand Prix pole and Valtteri Bottas stormed to the first victory of the 2019 season.
For a sixth consecutive year, Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Australian Grand Prix, while rookie Lando Norris impressed with a top ten grid slot for McLaren. It was Valtteri Bottas who led into the first corner however. Further back, Daniel Ricciardo ran over his own front wing on the run to Turn 1, bringing a premature end to his Renault debut. It was Carlos Sainz who was the first retirement of the season, however, with his Renault engine giving up eleven laps into the proceedings. There was a nightmare stop for Haas who, in a repeat of events twelve months previous, struggled to attach a wheel to Romain Grosjean’s car. The Frenchman later retired. Back on track, Norris found a way past Antonio Giovinazzi after the Alfa Romeo driver had held the McLaren up for multiple laps. Max Verstappen similarly overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, leaving the German open to attack from new team-mate Charles Leclerc; Ferrari eventually telling their new driver to maintain position. A late race battle to set the fastest lap ensued, which Bottas eventually came out on top of on his way to a dominant victory. Team-mate Hamilton finished twenty seconds behind, while Max Verstappen guided Honda to their first podium finish since 2008 on their début outing with Red Bull.
?? 2018 AUSTRALIAN GP RECAP
For a second year in succession, Sebastian Vettel took victory for Ferrari at the season-opening Grand Prix after a pit stop blunder for Mercedes.
The weekend got off to a bad start for home favourite Daniel Ricciardo, who received a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow down for a Red Flag during Friday Practice. It was a relatively easy run to pole for Lewis Hamilton, as his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas crashed out in Q3 and started way down the order as a result. Hamilton maintained his lead at the start, despite a challenge from Kimi Raikkonen. Max Verstappen had a scrappy race and spun after ten laps, losing positions at a critical moment. Haas were having a great afternoon, running in fourth and fifth, until pit stop problems saw both cars retire with wheelnut issues. Their retirements prompted a Virtual Safety Car, which the yet-to-pit Sebastian Vettel used to his advantage and emerged from his pit stop ahead of Hamilton. Despite his best attempts, Hamilton could do nothing to stop Vettel taking the victory. Bottas, after his qualifying crash, could only recover to eighth place in the Grand Prix as fellow Finn Raikkonen completed the podium finishers.
?? ALBERT PARK WINNERS AND POLESITTERS
|Year||Polesitter||Team on Pole||Winner||Winning Team|
|1996||Jacques Villeneuve||Williams||Damon Hill||Williams|
|1997||Jacques Villeneuve||Williams||David Coulthard||McLaren|
|1998||Mika Hakkinen||McLaren||Mika Hakkinen||McLaren|
|1999||Mika Hakkinen||McLaren||Eddie Irvine||Ferrari|
|2000||Mika Hakkinen||McLaren||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari|
|2001||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari|
|2002||Rubens Barrichello||Ferrari||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari|
|2003||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||David Coulthard||McLaren|
|2004||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari|
|2005||Giancarlo Fisichella||Renault||Giancarlo Fisichella||Renault|
|2006||Jenson Button||Honda||Fernando Alonso||Renault|
|2007||Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||Kimi Räikkönen||Ferrari|
|2008||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren|
|2009||Jenson Button||Brawn GP||Jenson Button||Brawn GP|
|2010||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||Jenson Button||McLaren|
|2011||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull|
|2012||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren||Jenson Button||McLaren|
|2013||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus|
|2014||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes|
|2015||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes|
|2016||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes|
|2017||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari|
|2018||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari|
|2019||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes|