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BMWF1Talk Track Guide :: Melbourne, Australian GP

By BMWF1Talk
April 2 2007

With just over a week to go until the 2007 season commences, the BMWF1Talk team offer a track guide to the season opener in Australia.

BMWF1Talk's Track Guide
Round 1 - Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia



Circuit Length: 5.303 Km (3.30 miles)
Turns: 16
Lap Record: 1'24"215 (M.Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004)
Time Zone: GMT +11


Circuit Background:

The Australian Grand Prix has been on the Formula One Grand Prix calendar since 1985, when it was held at the Adelaide Street Circuit. In 1996 it moved to the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne, which has hosted the first race of the championship every year since, except in 2006 when the first race was held at the Bahrain International Circuit due to a clash with the Commonwealth games in Melbourne. 2007 sees the season opener back in Melbourne, with race day scheduled to be on the 18th of March.

In 1993 prominent Melbourne businessman Mr Ron Walker AC CBE, current Chairman of the Australian Grand Prix began working with the then Kennett government to make Melbourne the host of the event. After the government of Jeff Kennett spent an undisclosed (but speculated to be quite large) amount, it was announced in late 1993 (days after a South Australian election) that the race would be shifted to a rebuilt Albert Park street circuit in Melbourne. The race moved to Melbourne in 1996. The decision to hold the race there was controversial. A series of protests were organised by the "Save Albert Park" group, who claimed that the race turned a public park into a private playground for much of the year. Additionally, they claimed that the race cost a great deal of money that would be better spent, if it was to be spent on motor racing, on a permanent circuit elsewhere. Finally, they said that the claimed economic benefits of the race were false or exaggerated. The race organisers and the government claimed that the economic benefits to the state outweighed the costs, and that the park's public amenities have been improved considerably by the works carried out for the race.

The idea of a permanent racing circuit has never really been addressed, but there is much speculation that the real reason for a street circuit is to provide a distinctive backdrop for television - a permanent race circuit would be unidentifiable and, from the perspective of the Formula One organisers, may as well be held in Europe at much lesser cost and inconvenience to them. In any case, a substantial number of people do embrace (and attend) the race at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit.

There are rumours that Adelaide may host a Formula One race again when Melbourne's contract comes up for review. The Adelaide event usually turned a profit, something which Melbourne has yet to achieve.


Technical Outlook:

The Melbourne circuit requires a high downforce setup and is tough on gearboxes (thus it should be a good test for the teams' new seamless shift gearboxes).

The circuit's fastest straight is just before the chicane which covers turns 11 and 12; at this point you will be going at 300kph. On the other end of the speed scale, as you brake for turn 15 you will be doing just 83kph.


2006 Results:
Pole: Jenson Button (view pole lap), Lap Time: 1'25"299
Fastest Lap: Kimi Räikkönen, Lap Time: 1'26"045 (on lap 57 of 57)
2006 Race Results:
1st Place: Fernando Alonso, Renault
2nd Place: Kimi Räikkönen, McLaren-Mercedes
3rd Place: Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
4th Place: Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
5th Place: Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
6th Place: Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber
7th Place: Rubens Barrichello, Honda
8th Place: David Coulthard, Red Bull-Ferrari


Previous Winners (since 2000):
2005: G.Fisichella, Renault
2004: M.Schumacher, Ferrari
2003: D.Coulthard, McLaren-Mercedes
2002: M.Schumacher, Ferrari
2001: M.Schumacher, Ferrari
2000: M.Schumacher, Ferrari


BMWF1Talk Track Comments

It's good to have Melbourne back as the season opener... it just wasn't the same last year, was it? Those Commonwealth games displacing Formula One... Since I started following F1, Oz has been the first race of the season and that's just the way it is.

My favourite aspect of Albert Park? I like the coloured gravel. The red, the blue, the yellow, the green (or is the green just grass?). It all makes crashing a bit more scenic anyway. Not that BMW will be doing any crashing this year.. oh no; we'll be leading the pack!

Chris, BMWF1Talk Site Principal, chris@bmwf1talk.com

When it comes around to the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park I think back to when I watched it for the first time back in 1997, although I can’t remember much from that season or race, I know I loved watching it, and this is the circuit that brought me into the world of motor sport and cars, and I never looked back, the Albert Park circuit is, in my view, one of the best grand prix on the F1 calendar this year.

Sam Cooper, BMWF1Talk Moderator, sam@bmwf1talk.com

Australia is one of those unique GPs, not only because of its track layout, but mainly for being the season starter. It's probably the most exciting race in that aspect.

Waking up at 4am (for us Europeans) after hardly sleeping that night, you expect a lot from that race, as you are too bored of off-season testing and speculations. And the show delivers in fine style. I still remember Ralf flying over Barrichello in 2002, or Alonso overtaking Montoya by going through the grass in 2004!

And that’s just the race start, when your heart rate is almost as fast as the drivers'!
The race end gives us an answer to the question we have all been asking: who has done their "homework" with the new car, and who hasn't!?

Jaime, BMWF1Talk Reporter, jaime@bmwf1talk.com




*This Track Guide was compiled by the BMWF1Talk web team, with all content being original bar the FIA Track Image and the "Circuit Background" text which is sourced at Wikipedia. *




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