As Formula 1 returns to the Albert Park Circuit in 2022 after two seasons without an Australian Grand Prix, changes have been made to the street circuit to foster better racing and a more challenging experience for drivers.
The F1 Australian Grand Prix Youtube channel is documenting the development of the track as it underwent construction through a series titled “The Evolution of Albert Park.” The series provides insight into the improvements being made and the limitations of the current layout.
In episode two of the series, McLaren Formula One Driver Daniel Ricciardo said, “It has been a difficult circuit to overtake, I think, just because it’s kind of narrow, it’s very fast, and the faster we go in F1, normally, the trickier it is to follow through a corner sequence. I think by changing some of these apexes, creating a little bit more of a wider apex, allowing more room to make a diving overtake or even just change your line to get out of the dirty air, I think that’ll help.”
The primary goals of the project are to create more overtaking opportunities, and allow for more competitive racing. The resulting layout will be faster, with two fewer turns and an overall shorter lap.
The CEO of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, Andrew Westacott said in the second episode, “The changes we’re making geometrically now are going to make for more aggressive driving, it’s going to reduce lap times by about five seconds per lap.”
Mark Skaife, Director of Motorsport, IEDM said in episode 2 of the series that the character of the circuit will be preserved, and the layout of the “hero corners” of originally numbered turns 11 and 12 will remain the same. Modifications have been made at the original turns 1, 3, 6, 13 and 15, while the chicane of turns 9 and 10 has been removed completely.
Turn 1 has been widened by 2.5 meters, as the original layout was described as a “bottleneck” that was not optimal for race starts. Turn 3 received a similar treatment, as it has been widened by 4 meters and has had a camber adjustment. Ricciardo suggests that this may allow for a greater chance to pass competitors.
“By widening [turn 3] as well, we probably will have a later apex and therefore it leaves the door open maybe a little longer to allow an opportunity to overtake.”
Turn 6 is being expanded by a significant 7.5 meters, creating a more open, flowing corner. Drivers are expected to be able to complete the turn at 70 kph faster than previously.
The most notable change coming to the circuit is the creation of a new straight, as the chicane of turns 9 and 10 are removed. The result is a flowing portion which allows for high speed and the inclusion of an additional DRS zone. The drivers will approach the “left-right flick” of the following turns at a faster than ever before at about 330 kph, according to episode 3 of the series.
The new turn 11 (previously turn 13) has also been expanded and has had a change in camber to allow for more overtaking opportunities. The final modification made was at turn 13 (previously turn 15) as the inside of the corner was widened– another improvement meant to support overtaking.
Overall, the changes made to the circuit are an effort to create more race day action, add more viewing opportunities for Grand Prix attendees, and improve Albert Park for citizens beyond race weekend.
“Widening some of these apexes, trying to create a little bit more of a straight in some areas to allow a bigger opportunity to slipstream and just have closer racing, that was really the priority,” Ricciardo said in episode 2. “I’m very confident it’s going to be good.”