Formula One 2017 Track Guide: Australia

Formula One 2017 Track Guide: Australia

The first part of VAVEL's guide to all the venues in the 2017 Formula One season takes us to Australia, for the iconic Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit in Albert Park.

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James Eagles

For the nineteenth time in the past 21 years, Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia, will play host to the opening round of the FIA Formula One World Championship.

A temporary street circuit situated around a large man-made lake, the 3.2 mile track offers an exciting mix of corners and the first real test for all of the new Formula 1 cars outside of winter testing.

Before making its debut on the F1 calendar in 1996, the road that runs around the Albert Park Lake was conditioned and rebuilt in order to not shatter every car...and indeed driver.

Composed of 16 turns - including four medium to high speed chicanes, the track has become a much loved staple of the roadshow and is set to stay for the next few years at the very least. Drivers appreciate the consistency of the track's layout - it's not too difficult to learn and thus build up confidence and speed, needed after four months out with no competitive racing.

Having only undergone minor re-profiling ahead of the 2017 season, thanks to the new regulations, the lap record is still held by the Ferrari F2004 at the hands of Michael Schumacher, but expect that to be equalled or even bettered over the course of the 58 laps.

Track guide

After blasting down the medium length pit straight at around 195 miles per hour with the Drag Reduction System in full effect, the braking for Turn 1 is expected to be situated around 100 metres before the first apex; a quick right is complemented by an open left that leads out onto a slightly angled straight.

Turn 1 has seen carnage plenty of times. | Photo: Getty Images/The Asahi Shimbun
Turn 1 has seen carnage plenty of times. | Photo: Getty Images/The Asahi Shimbun

Turn 3 is bumpy under braking and despite having a short braking distance at around 75 metres in Qualifying trim, the sharp right is one of the slowest on the track. A short squirt of throttle - weary of the traction - brings the drivers to the clumsy left of Turn 4. Watch the kerb on the exit as it's slightly raised and can spit you out into the barrier. Turn 5 is little challenge in a modern car, swing it right whilst flat out in sixth gear.

The second chicane of Turns 6 and 7 starts to bring you towards the lake complex - a nigh on carbon copy of the first chicane, Turns 8 and 9 are the same. Watch out for the traction after the latter chicane, as power is applied alongside steering load.

The curved back "straight" climaxes with one of the quickest corner combinations on the calendar. A couple of downshifts for the first left should set you nicely up for the immediate right - taken with a slight lift. Drivers are cautious not to run wide, the mounds in the grass gave Timo Glock and his Toyota quite the fright in 2008.

A thrilling way to view Melbourne. | Photo: Wikipedia
A thrilling way to view Melbourne. | Photo: Wikipedia

The final timing sector is partly composed of two clunky medium speed right turns, taken in fourth and fifth respectively. The final part of the lap sees the drivers tasked with the slowest corner on the track at just 60mph in second gear, followed by a seemingly never-ending right that requires a disciplined right foot. Once that's been dealt with, the pit straight awaits and you have to do all over again.

Statistics

Most wins for a driver: Michael Schumacher - 4

Most wins for a constructor: McLaren and Ferrari - 6 each

Lap Record: 1:24.125 - Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004

Did you know?

Albert Park has seen three drivers claim podiums on their F1 debuts: Jacques Villeneuve at the inaugural event in 1996, Lewis Hamilton in 2007 and most recently, Kevin Magnussen in 2014.

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