Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2018

Changing Albert Park track to aid passing could spoil it – Bottas

2018 F1 season

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Valtteri Bottas says any changes to the Albert Park track to aid overtaking should respect the character of the parkland track.

The difficulty of overtaking at the Melbourne circuit was highlighted on Sunday as Bottas struggled to climb from 15th on the grid to eighth at the chequered flag. However he is concerned changing the track to aid overtaking could spoil it.

Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Albert Park, 2018 width=
2018 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
“It is a difficult track to overtake,” said Bottas after Sunday’s race. “But it’s a track with character so it would be a shame to change it.

“For sure you could always make tracks somehow easier to overtake, but I don’t know, I’m 50-50 on that.”

No plans to alter the circuit are in place but the FIA having discussed the subject with the Australian Grand Prix Corporation which runs the race. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is among those who wants to see changes.

“I think it should be looked at here,” said Horner. “They’re doing something in Abu Dhabi.

“It should be looked at here if there’s a simple solution to create a bigger braking zone, maybe tighten turn one up, something like there, so there’s a proper braking zone, because the braking areas are too short, especially with the speed that the cars are capable of now.”

Lewis Hamilton said his first concern is that the venue remains on the F1 calendar.

“One thing or sure is I don’t want to lose this track,” he said. “I think it’s such a great event, I love being here in Australia. It’s a fantastic city, it’s great driving around Albert Park.

“It is a short track, it could be longer, maybe. They definitely could make adjustments. We got another DRS [zone]. But it happens to be, what I’m told, the second-hardest track of the whole 21 to overtake. Monaco must be the first and this is the second.”

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2018 F1 season

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Albert Park, Melbourne, 2018
Albert Park, Melbourne, 2018

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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43 comments on “Changing Albert Park track to aid passing could spoil it – Bottas”

  1. I mean, he’s not wrong, and I always loved Albert Park because of the flow of certain corners, the close walls, and the fact that the races almost always used to be fun (lot of mistakes, crashing, excitement) but recently with the lack of overtaking the races are often quite bad. Without wishing to deal with the flow of the track, there are a few corners, namely 3, 6, 13 and 14, maybe 9, which they could alter to make it slightly less than 90 degree, so that it requires harder breaking and allows for more dive-bomb overtaking. Perhaps alter the last corner complex so that people dare overtake into the penultimate corner without ruining the flow into the last corner. It can be done, I reckon. Whether or not it should is naturally up for debate.
    One thing I will say is don’t mess with turn one. A relatively fast and edgy first corner like that is always great fun and a good challenge.

    1. Actually, now that I think of it, if you compare Albert Park to COTA, it could be an example of how. The first corner of COTA and the infield section have a few tighter corners which then require a twist so that you can overtake but you have to fight to keep the position into the next corner. They can do that in 13 and 14, probably in 6 too. It would indeed alter the flow, but it would make for some closer racing.

    2. They can quite easily extend the straight between 12 & 13 and make it a sharp Shanghai-like hairpin that then becomes a straight towards the current T15 (bypassing the current T14) which then also becomes an overtaking spot.

  2. Antoon van Gemert
    27th March 2018, 9:55

    Valtteri Bottas is wrong! Every change to aid passing must be welcomed, because Formula 1 is in dire need for more overtaking-opportunities. The only question is if there’s room enough to do it at Albert Park,a circuit with great atmosphere but the track itself is nothing special. Personally I would love to go back to Adelaide, good memories of that track. The only circuits that we’re spoiled, for all the wrong reasons, are Hockenheim and Imola.

    1. There would be less overtaking at Adelaide than there is at Melbourne.

  3. Are you sure it’s nothing to do with the 30-element front wings?

    Remarkable that it’s pretty much unchanged since 1996, especially for a temporary track.
    But Turn 4’s a bit of a nothing corner, and it’s in a parking lot so something could be done there to make it flow better, at least allow cars to run side-by-side.
    And I’m sure the end of the lap could be improved so 13 gives you half a chance and the last two are made more interesting and less of a slow plod round. But I guess it’s got to follow the park roads.

    1. @bullfrog – I sat on T4 for the weekend (after spending Thursday in the Paddock, which was great) and as you say there is a run off area from track to wall of maybe 15-18m which they don’t really need as its a slow corner. They could extend the small straight from T3 to T4 to give a quicker exit from T4 and possibly a better change to overtake in T5.

      Also as you say they track needs to follow the park roads around the lake but I think have a few options to move in the last 3 corners as that is parklands (similar to last part of the Adelaide circuit really) so may be able to do something there as well.

      Or even better, leave the track as is and reduce aero grip and increase mechanical grip and we will see a higher difference between mid corner and mid straight speed and the drivers talent will be more important.

      1. T5 is the quick right hand corner which LH took in 7th gear on his pole lap and there is no run off so I think they won’t touch T4.

  4. As an Aussie I would rather see F1 around Mt Panorama or back in Adelaide than Albert Park. To me the most Boring Circuit short of an INDY OVAL.

    1. I don’t think Mt Panorama has the FIA rating one standard required?

      Adelaide would be fantastic but the circuit would need to be extended as its too short for F1 now, but there is available parklands to do so!! I would love that!!!

    2. There are plans in the pipeline to build and FIA grade 1 circuit using the bottom half of Mt Panorama.

      1. @macca If its not using the top half of Mt Panorama then theres no point at all. Thats what Bathurst is all about! that top section up the hill into skyline, then down to Conrod straight is arguably one of the best pieces of track in the world.

  5. I like playing this game on F1 games. Please don’t change it.

    1. +1. I sometimes wonder in all this talk about improving the F1 fan experience whether any decisionmakers take into account that the fans’ experience includes the drivers’ experience, as simulated through licensed F1 games. I’m surely not the only person who became an F1 fan as a kid through playing video games.

      For me, the Tilkedromes and street circuits have not only made F1 more boring, but they have made the F1 games more boring. And now, Liberty seems to want to add all these street circuits, which makes for a more varied visual spectacle on TV. But we know that it creates a bland sameness for the drivers, and we experience it viscerally when we get a degraded product every year for our money.

  6. Michael Freeman
    27th March 2018, 10:18

    Skip turn 15 and provide a nice curve linking turns 14 and 16 to give a higher speed run onto the main straight. Then tighten up turn 1 dramatically. Maybe tighten up turn 13, too.

  7. It’s shocking that after all the changes to F1 since last season there was not much overtaking here, we now have halo’s, new F1 logo, new F1 theme music, new t.v graphics and no grid girls and yet this race had barely any more overtaking than last year, absolute shock.

  8. There’s nothing that needs changing about this track, it’s been good for years. The cars need changing

    1. You are exactly right about that. CHEERS!

  9. Vettel fan 17 (@)
    27th March 2018, 11:51

    I hope they don’t change the track. It’s quite cool and some of the medium speed corners are hard. Some tracks will always be hard to overtake at.

  10. Wasn’t one of the proposals to extend the track at turn 11 and add a hairpin/tight left hander?

    1. It would be a disaster if Albert Park was altered. Sure it is a hard track to overtake on, particularly with the current spec of cars, however IMO it is also one of the most spectacular circuits to watch a car on the limit.

      T1 & T2 is a fantastic corner sequence, very challenging and great to watch the drivers dance on the limit.

      Please don’t ‘Tilke-the-track’ and start adding hairpins with super wide track widths.

      Reduce weight, increase power, more mech grip and loose the downforce!

    2. @geemac The proposal was to use the bit of road on the inside of T9/10 which would effectively create a flat out run from T8 all the way down to T11. Then they wanted to move the inside kerb at T11 to create a bigger braking zone & potential overtaking zone.

      However given how most of the drivers (And many fans) say that T11/12 are the best corners on the circuit I don’t feel that would be a good change.

      1. The T9 thing is on my mind since 1996…

  11. I’d want to see corners 11,12 and 13 straightened, make it more like Canada.

    1. @emu55 Turns 11/12 are 2 of the best corners on the circuit & 2 of the corners the drivers pretty universally love, They shouldn’t be changed in any way.

    2. Watching a planted F1 car go through 11 and 12 is thrilling!

  12. any changing of tracks to improve overtaking is addressing the symptom, not the cause.

    and the obsession with overtakes over the last few years is kinda stupid imo.

  13. Has it ever been considered to try and run a race around the track in reverse. Turn 9 could be interesting.

  14. I don’t like the idea of changing circuits in the name of overtaking as I think all you usually end up doing is ruining the circuit & I don’t think there are many (If any) examples of a circuit been modified in the pursuit of overtaking that has resulted in the circuit been better.

    Turn 10 at Barcelona was modified for overtaking & the new turn 10 is rubbish compared to the old one. Same with the Bus Stop at Spa, The final sector at Magny-Cours, Variante Alta at Imola, Monza chicanes, Rascasse at Monaco, Turns 1 & 12 & Hungaroring, 1st sector at Nurburgring, Final chicane at Suzuka & using the new loop at Silverstone (Originally only planned for MotoGP).

    Many of those changes may very well have helped overtaking possibilities, But I don’t believe any of them made the circuits better & would argue all did the opposite & ruined that particular part of the track.

    Melbourne is fine as it is, Yes it’s not the best for overtaking but overtaking should not be the defining factor on what makes a track good or not & tracks should not be modified just because some believe that overtaking is all important. Some tracks are easier to overtake on than others & to me that is perfectly fine.

    1. There were so many interesting little things going on, I hardly noticed the lack of overtaking at all.

      1. Also, I too have an unexpectedly fond affection for the old busstop. That was a proper chicane.

  15. Don’t change the track, change the venue. Take it back to Adelaide.

  16. Albert Park is one of my favourite tracks to watch qualifying on… and close to being my least-favourite for racing. I love the flow, the corners, the way it punishes mistakes, but it’s truly, truly awful once an actual race starts and the cars are supposed to have a chance of overtaking.

    So I do want to see something change, because racing is the priority, but at the same time I’d be sad if they killed any of the challenge or flow that makes single laps so pleasant to watch.

  17. I’ve always loved Albert Park as a Grand Prix venue, right from the days as a child when I’d set my alarm to watch heroes Schumacher and Hakkinen in action!

    I’d be wary of altering the layout too much as I love it as it is!
    However, I’d like to see turns 9/10 – 11/12 opened up. The latter are almost flat out anyway, and the current escape road layout is already there. This would create a straight with some pretty exciting kinks from turns 6 to 13 allowing for slipstreaming with a big stop at the end.

    It would change the complexion of the track to a much higher speed / lower downforce track (better for passing) without changing the character

  18. Turn 1 is fine as it has always created overtaking spots into T3. Making turn 1 tighter will just turn it into chicane and won’t change anything at all. Abu dhabi is a track full of corners like that. We know it wouldn’t work.

    If the track has some issue it is that most of the corners are essentially chicane style corners. Turn right then turn left as the 2nd corner opens up. This kind of design means that there is only one line through a corner. You can not brake later and turn in later because that will just mess up your second part of the corner. In typical 90 degree corners that works because there is no second part to the corner. It is also why tracks like abu dhabi suck. Too many chicanes that have only one line through them.

    I think key to the magic is in the turn 9. Make that more typical single corner instead of fast chicane and you have long straight into turn 11. That is almost already an overtake place now but the straight is a tad too short. Allowing the cars exit turn 9 closer to each other by allowing the cars take different lines through turn 9 would make turn 11 better overtaking place. In other words remove turn 10. Or you could just remove turns 9-10 altogether and make it long straight from 8 to 11.

    There was also some suggestions that turns 11 and 12 should be reprofiled for better overtaking. I’d hate to see that corner complex changed. It is one of the few super fast corner sections in f1 that is really a corner where drivers really earn their money. It is blindingly fast. But as much as I hate to see it changed it would create better overtaking into corner 13. Making the 11-12 slower would create braking point in 11 possible creating overtaking situations.

    Although I don’t think the only option is to make those corners slower. You could also make that corner a lot faster. Even make it a straight. Imagine it being one long straight from 8 to 13? You’d not even need to drs to guarantee overtaking there. Making the that part of the track faster would also mean teams would need to take some downforce off of the cars.

    But even then the real problem is the cars. All other racing series don’t have problems overtaking in melbourne. Take away lots of aero and get rid of hybrid engines and the track is more than fine.

    1. @socksolid – Great points.

  19. Make the pit straight longer to improve the chances of a DRS pass. Eliminate turns 14, 15, and 16. Extend the pit straight backwards to a new turn 14 where it intersects an extended straight between turns 13 and 14.

    It would mean digging up a football field, but the field could be moved to the disused section of track which would be turned back to parkland.

  20. Aero regs are too bad for overtaking, the only logical solution is to implement joker laps! Right? Right? :D

  21. The simple solution would be to run turn 13 past its current location at ross gregory drive and turn right at village green drive lengthening the straight a few hundred metres and providing an almost Adeliade like hairpin at the end of the Brabham straight
    This would solve all overtaking problems whilst retaining the flow of the track

  22. My 1st reaction was to say ,YES, the track needs to be changed because the current bane of F1 is the lack of competition grounded in part by a lack of overtaking and a wider track with more braking points and other overtaking opportunities would be a great idea but, then I read the comments which were posted and realized that such changes would be very “un-F1”. By that I mean that many F1 fans seem to like the follow the leader form displayed in most every F1 event ( I am not sure they should be called races as they are essentially qualifying events follows by a demonstration of Mercedes superiority and the fact that front-wing dependent /high down force cars can go very fast through a tracks turns but, sacrifice overtaking and driver dominated battles for position .
    This high speed exhibition seems to be well received so why change it . Apparently F1 fans ( I used to be one ) don’t like the Indycar type of parity and battles testing the drivers and not just the constructors . Nor do they like changes in position via overtaking not precipitating by a DRS made speed advantage and a race whose outcome is usually know by the end of qualifications .

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