Safety measures implemented at Albert Park Circuit for 2017


MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 18: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands drives the (33) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11 Ferrari 059/5 turbo on track during practice ahead of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 18, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Ahead of the season opener in Australia for the 2017 Formula 1 season, the Albert Park Circuit will be changed to accommodate the faster F1 cars.

The Australian Circuit is set to see an increase of mid-corner speeds between 20 and 50 km/h on mid-to-high speed corners, with lap times lowered to three to four seconds, according to the data provided to the Australian Grand Prix Corporation from the FIA.

Now there has been a number of safety-related revisions to the layout, at Turns 1, 6 and 14 the tyre wall will be re-profiled, as well as at Turn 12 there will be over $100,000 worth of Tecpro high-speed barriers, a first for the Melbourne circuit.

“The FIA gave us instructions, based on the simulations they’ve done, on which turns would need additional tyre buffers, or in the case of Turn 12 inclusion of a high-speed barrier,” Craig Moca, Division Manager of Infrastructure at the AGPC told Motorsport.com.

“We took all the information we received from the FIA, and being a temporary circuit we had to manufacture additional tyre buffers and purchase 80 metres worth of the Tec Pro barrier. That’s a big step for us from being an old-school track where we’ve got tyres and conveyor belts, to having these high-speed barriers.”

The introduction of the Tecpro barrier is because the new regulations are tipped to see the cars go as fast as 230 km/h when they leave the corner. The impact with the barrier, should a car run wide, is predicted to be around 129 km/h, a major factor to the introduction of the Tecpro hardware.

“At Turn 12 we used to have six rows of tyres,” added Moca.

“Now what we’ve done is we’ve taken away three rows of tyres and implemented the Tecpro system. It’s one row of Tecpro barriers, and every 10 metres there’s a double Tecpro barrier, which essentially adds a buffer from the tyre wall.”

The tyre wall for the run-off at Turn 1 will be doubled in width, along with a 10-metre stretch in the corner of run-off at Turn 6. The biggest improvement will be at Turn 14, as the entire run-off area at the end of the braking zone, will be doubled from three rows of tyres to six with tube inserts.

“When I did some research, watching Lewis Hamilton’s qualifying on-board footage from 2015, it shows the speeds on approach to those corners, and you can clearly see why the FIA identified those corners,” said Moca.

“Because our barriers are so close to the track, it’s making sure that we’ve got enough protection that if a driver does go off track, it can stop without seriously injuring the driver or damaging the car substantially.

“If you look at Turn 1, for instance, that’s the end of our DRS zone. So we’ve doubled the width of the tyres at the end of the gravel trap, so if a car did get in trouble – and typically where they do at Turn 1 is heading straight towards the long run-off – we’ve got enough tyres to slow down the impact.”