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Prixview – Australian Grand Prix

The opening race of the 2019 season takes Formula One to Albert Park in Melbourne. Albert Park returned to the Grand Prix calendar in 1995 after moving from Adelaide to a street circuit around the lake in the middle of a public park.

The circuit remains as it was when it was first hosted the race 1953, as a non-championship round. However, the race has its origins in 1928 when the race was held on an early version of Phillip Island as 100-mile race around public roads. Albert Park is a street circuit in the heart of the capital of New South Wales.

The race is the second oldest Grand Prix outside of Europe and has been run eighty three times as a race. However, it holds the record for the most venues used during its ninety-year history and prior to it joining the F1 calendar was the flagship race of the Tasman Series and Australian Drivers’ Championship.

Albert Park is the only venue to host the Australian Grand Prix in both World Championship and non-World Championship. However, while the layout remains largely the same, the 1950’s races. While Albert Park was the spiritual home of Grand Prix racing down under, the city of Adelaide was the home of the first F1 race. Like Melbourne, the circuit was built in the heart of the business district and proved demanding as drivers battled it out for titles around the 3.7km circuit.

That race was a battle between Keke Rosberg and Ayrton Senna, a two hour battle with Rosberg winning 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.

Albert Park is a twisty but fast circuit which has seen a number of dramatic and edge of the seat racing as the Autumn begins down under. The race is one where following and overtaking can be difficult, but it is hoped that the regulation changes this year can increase overtaking. Often a bumpy circuit and often in practice, we see many drivers make mistakes, as it is one off the more demanding street circuits. It can prove tricky to find grip early on in the weekend and that can make overtaking difficult, cars need good downforce to attack the corners.

The circuit has very little straights given its location, many straights bend around the lake, but this has an impact on overtaking. There should be hope that this years changes mean that cars are able to follow closely on track.

Facts and figures

Round 01 of 21
Race Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019
Venue Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Albert Park, Melbourne, Victoria
Circuit Length 5.303 km (3.296 mi)
Laps 58
Race Distance 307.574 km (191.071 mi)
Lap Record 01:24.125 Michael Schumacher, F2004, 2004
Most wins drivers Michael Schumacher (4)

Lex Davison (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 a home race is fourth Mark Webber in 2012 and Alfredo Costanzo in 1984.
  • The 2007 Australian Grand Prix is the only time, other than the first F1 race, where every driver on the podium was making their maiden appearance for the team with whom they were competing. Kimi Raikkonen won on his Ferrari debut, while Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton both made their first podium appearances for McLaren.
  • Along with Hamilton, both Kevin Magnussen and Jacques Villeneuve also took there first podiums on their debuts at Albert Park.
  • Hamilton has taken pole at the Australian Grand Prix in every season since 2014, but has converted only one of those pole positions (2015) into race victory.
  • The lowest grid slot a Grand Prix at Albert Park has been won from is eleventh. David Coulthard achieved this in 2003, on what would be his final victory in F1.
  • The 2012 Australian Grand Prix was the first F1 race to feature six World Champions (Hamilton, Jenson Button, Alonso, Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher) competing in it. Also was the first time since it became a world championship race that two Australians started.
  • Albert Park is named after the Prince Albert the husband of Queen Victoria. While the state of Victoria is named after her, but has been spilt into two since then Victoria and New South Wales.

Event timetable

Session

Local

GMT

Friday

P1 12:00-13:30 01:00-02:30
P2 16:00-17:30 05:00-06:30

Saturday

P3 14:00-15:00 03:00-04:00
Qualifying 17:00-18:00 06:00-07:00

Sunday

Race 16:10 05:10

What happened in 2018?

Lewis Hamilton started his title defence in a dominant style by taking pole by seven tenths of a second over both Ferrari’s. The Mercedes certainly had the pace in the session, going a second faster than he managed in 2017. Meanwhile, teammate Valtteri Bottas crashed out after running wide into Turn Two, meaning he was unable to improve in the opening moments of Q3.

Hamilton lead most of the race early on, he was in control and had an comfortable lead over Sebastian Vettel. That was until Haas’s Romain Grosjean stopped out on track and brought out the virtual safety car. That proved pivotal, Mercedes brought Hamilton in for his second stop, but was it the right call?

When Hamilton came in and re-joined he was behind Vettel, the timing of the VSC allowed the German to stay out longer and build a six second lead over the Englishman. Vettel then went on to seal the first win of the season, leaving Mercedes with unanswered questions.

It was shaping up to be a good race for Haas, but both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were running fourth and fifth as they made their stops.

however, the American team did not secure the tyres properly forcing them both to stop on track and bring out the VSC, losing the team’s best result in their history and costing Mercedes the win.

Race Result – 1) S. Vettel, 2) L. Hamilton, 3) K. Raikkonen

What to watch for?

Albert Park has become a race where anything can happen, there is normally some drama. But looking at recent years, Mercedes dominated the first few years of the hybrid era but Ferrari has won the last two years. Going on testing, this year could be an interesting race given the closeness of the teams.

We know the possibilities of a safety car are quite high, this is for two reasons we are at a street circuit and the probability of an accident at the first race has been heightened as drivers will be a bit rusty. We can see the safety car play a key role in the outcome of the race as we have seen in the past two years.

The talking point from testing was how close the top three teams were as well as the midfield. The interesting thing will be how the gaps play out, Ferrari are believed to hold the slight advantage over Mercedes. But we don’t really know for certainty that this is really the pace or not.

Daniel Ricciardo will be the main talking point, he is heading to his home race with Renault for the first time. Renault will want to make a point of maximising his home race, but that could be hard as we believe the top three continue to hold a slight edge over the midfield.

2017 vs 2018 Race Data

P1 Fastest

P2 Fastest

P3 Fastest

Q1 Fastest

Q2 Fastest

Q3 Fastest

Race Time

Fastest Lap

2018

01:24.026 01:23.931 01:26.067 01:22.824 01:21.994 01:21.164 01:29:33.283 01:25.945

Diff

-0.194 -0.311 -2.687 -01:08.773 -1.257 -0.954 -5:22.389 -0.593

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

A lap of Albert Park

Lewis Hamilton comes out of the final corner going to the outside of the track where he slightly drifts over to line up with the grid as he enters into Jones hits the kerb and then drifts the Mercedes across the track entering Brabham. Stays on the inside as he runs along Aughtuie Drive before crossing to the outside for Sports Centre. Breaking a 100m before the corner, and runs the car to the outside before returning to the inside. Goes nicely through Hellas and runs the car along the inside nips to the outside briefly going into the ninety degree Whiteford.

Carries speed on the way to Marina, breaking 100m before the corner gets a good exit and build speed through Lauda hugging the lakeside. He exits the curve he heads to the outside before breaking for the Waite chicane.

Which he takes by going to the outside hitting the kerb on entry and straight through the exit going back to the outside. Nicely driven on the approach to Hill before breaking runs along to Ascari, where he takes the kerb goes to the inside for Senna. He hugs the apex before lining himself up through Prost going to the outside and runs along all the way doing a 1:21.164.

Tyres

Driver

Team

White Hard (C2)

Yellow Medium (C3)

Red Soft
(C4)

L. Hamilton

Mercedes 1 3 9

V. Bottas

1 3

9

S. Vettel

Ferrari 1 3 9
C. Leclerc 2 2

9

M. Verstappen

Red Bull – Honda 1 3 9
P. Gasly 1 3

9

D. Riccardo

Renault 1 2 10
N. Hulkenberg 2 1

10

K. Magnussen

Haas – Ferrari 1 3 9
R. Grosjean 1 3

9

C. Sainz Jr

McLaren – Renault 2 2 9

L. Norris

2 2

9

S. Perez

Racing Point –Mercedes 2 3 8
L. Stroll 2 3

8

K. Raikkonen

Alfa Romeo – Ferrari 1 3 9
A. Giovinazzi 2 2

9

D. Kvyat

Toro Rosso – Honda 1 3 9

A. Albon

1 3 9

G. Russell

Williams –Mercedes

1 4 8
R. Kubica 2 3

8

mm
Jack Fielding
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.

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