Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Albert Park, 2019

Removal of turn nine chicane to cut F1 lap times by five seconds at Albert Park

2021 Australian Grand Prix

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Revisions to the Albert Park circuit for November’s Australian Grand Prix are expected to cut lap times by around five seconds.

The race promoters have revealed further details of the planned changes, which they say will aid overtaking at the 25-year-old circuit. The 5.3 kilometre track has been unchanged since it replaced Adelaide as the home of the Australian Grand Prix in 1996.

The most significant change comes at the turn nine and 10 chicane, which will be eased to allow drivers to pass through at speed. Other corners will be widened and reprofiled with the goal of promoting better racing.

The track record for the current layout is a Lewis Hamilton’s 1’20.486, set during qualifying for the 2019 race. Lap times around the mid-1’15 range are expected following the modifications, which will include a complete resurfacing of the course.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019
Feature: Track changes planned to improve racing in November’s Australian GP
“I think these changes are in the direction of what we want,” said Daniel Ricciardo. “Better races, more battles – the changes are going to push us towards that.”

He expects the alterations to the circuit will pay off more when Formula 1 introduces its new technical regulations aimed at aiding overtaking next year.

“With these cars the changes should help a lot, but from 2022, if next year promises everything it does with being able to follow the car in front and the racing to be enhanced, then coming to a circuit like Albert Park with these changes should make a pretty amazing spectacle.

“I see all of these changes as beneficial for Sunday and we can have some fun on the brakes. It’ll make the racing closer, I’m pretty confident of that.”

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Current Albert Park layout and planned changes

Albert Park, Melbourne, 2018
Albert Park circuit, Melbourne
1Widened by 2.5 metres, new camber
3Widened by four metres
6Widened by 7.5 metres, increasing cornering speeds from 149kph to 219kph
9-10Chicane removed, creating longest flat-out section on circuit. Possible new DRS zone
13Entry to corner straightened, corner reprofiled and widened by 3.5 metres
15Widened by 3.5 metres, new camber

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Pictures: Track redevelopment work at Albert Park

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Author information

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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46 comments on “Removal of turn nine chicane to cut F1 lap times by five seconds at Albert Park”

  1. One more thing, Get rid of the T11-T12 curbs to give slighter turning angles and thus an uninterrupted full-throttle run until T13. Additionally, the lap time would be even more than five seconds faster, like 7-8 or perhaps even 10. Overtaking into T13 could improve further. For me, those corners would also be more enjoyable driving-wise with less steering angle.

    1. A fourth DRS zone is unlikely, though, as T11 would be unnecessarily risky if approached DRS activated, especially side-by-side with another car.

    2. @jerejj that would lead to a very high entry speed to corner 13, which is basically a 90 degree turn. Being a street circuit, there wouldn’t be enough run-off to make it safe. There’s a cricket pitch that prevents the gravel trap being extended.

      1. @gardenfella72 I reckon the present runoff area is large enough for the approach speeds without T11-T12 apex curbs that separate the regular traffic sides. I could be wrong, though, but the T13 runoff at least looks relatively vast.

        1. @jerejj it’s not the straight-on run-off that’s the issue, it’s the barrier on the exit of the turn and that can’t be moved any further back.

          1. @gardenfella72 I see what you mean. I also checked both Google Maps and the most recent Australian GP pole lap onboard for reference, and yes, the tyre barrier limits the runoff area if a crash happens at an angle other than straight-on.

    3. Don’t touch T11 and T12. Having sat across from the apex on entry to T11 I can say that this is one of the great corners in motorsport.

      It would have been interesting if they made the section from T5 all the way to T11 flat out. Anywho, all they needed to do was make T1/T2 flat out and all their overtaking issues would have been solved.

  2. That’s a pity.
    I quite enjoy that knoll behind the sand trap to view the cars coming straight at you.
    Quite a few drivers misjudge the braking point there.

    1. Have watched Kimi locking up there multiple times. I’m sure he won’t be able to suppress his effusion at the change ;-)

  3. I’m not sure I like them widening the track as how narrow the track is in some of those corners is a big part of what makes them so challenging & tricky to get right & I just worry that widening them will just end up making them easier.

    And while the removal of the 9/10 chicane is interesting in terms of making the run to 11/12 faster, It’s also taking away what could be a very tricky braking point into 9 due to the bump on top of taking away what was a possible overtaking zone.

    We’ll see how it goes obviously but i’m just not sold on the changes been an overall positive.

  4. They are doing it all wrong.
    Modern F1 needs more big braking zones, not less.
    And why the focus on lowering lap times? Haven’t we grown out of that immature fetish yet?

    If anyone thought the races in Melbourne were boring before, this is not good news for you.

    1. I am not sure if you are right. Think about it, how many big braking zones does Silverstone have? Very few and there are plenty of overtakings there. On the other hand, Abu Dhabi has an abundance of big breaking zones and races are on average much more processional than at Silverstone.

      I think many medium speed corners are best for overtaking, since you can follow each other more closely.

      1. It’s not the corners or braking zones per se – it’s how they interact with each other.
        Silverstone is a bunch of short technical sections with long straights in between. Time is lost in the technical sections, then gained on the straight. Repeat 3 or 4 times around each lap.
        Abu Dhabi has a short ‘technical’ section at the start, the into two massive straights, then into a huge, slow technical section. By the time they get back to an overtaking area they’ve lost so much time in dirty air.

        With Melbourne, 1/2 is medium speed. Leads to 3 which is a big braking zone. Technical section to 7, then it will be a huge straighty-curvy bit to a high speed 11/12 down a (usually too) short straight to 13. Then technical section back to the main straight.
        It’s taking out a big braking zone, one that can induce errors – and replacing it with, well, nothing really. It won’t be an overtaking area or a braking zone. It won’t even be a technical section that can induce driving errors – it’s just a nothing.

        1. S: fair points. I think overtaking will still be difficult in Melbourne, even after the changes. My point was that you don’t need tight corners, long straights and big braking zones to overtake, and Silverstone is a prime example of that. But I agree that Melbourne might be a bit different.

      2. @matthijs Following is generally easier through slower corners than faster ones, albeit not a clear-cut rule.

        1. @jerejj You are kind of right, but I have a different opinion. In slow corners you can get closer in distance to your opponent, but not in time. Take the dreadful hairpin in Abu Dhabi for instance, the one leading to the straight. A driver can get really close to the driver ahead, but once you reach the apex, the other driver is already accelerating away from you. And there is nothing that you can do about it, because you aren’t there yet. That’s not close racing.

          Now in medium speed corner as Becketts on Silverstone, the time difference between drivers accelerating is minimal. When the one behind has better tyres, he might even accelerate earlier than the one ahead, making it easier to follow each other close and even overtake.

          1. @matthijs Good point and reference.

  5. Personally, I’m looking forward to the removal of the chicane as I’ve always been terrible at it in video games. I can never figure out the entry. Alongside sector 3 at Catalunya, it always feels like a chore. Of course we all want F1 drivers to be challenged, but I’m looking forward to an easy flat out stretch. They get paid more than me.

    1. Good one! Sounds very familiar

    2. I almost always used to corner cut T9 and T10 in the older F1 games back in PS2 :)

    3. @bernasaurus I was going to say the same thing :)
      Corner 14 is also easy to get wrong (for me) and lose time. But fluff the chicane and I always get passed on the straight.

    4. lol, same here. i always lose most time through that chicane when i race the track in the f1 games.

      1. Ha ha, I’m glad i’m not the only one, even back to Geoff Crammonds’ GP3, I’ve never once felt like I’ve got it right, and there’s no point defending into the next (11/12) sequence as you lose too much time. I feel better that others have this issue (not from next season though).

        @t1redmonkey @david-br @qeki

    5. @bernasaurus dammit I’ve only just worked it out!

  6. Albert Park is a brilliant, difficult race track. Why change it at all? Yes, I’ve read all the points. But their plans make me very nervous that they are going to ruin an iconic circuit. Making things easier for the drivers sounds rubbish to me. Why not just add another 8 DRS zones. :O(

  7. I am very disappointed by these proposals. Firstly, did we really need to change Albert park? It tends to provide exciting racing already, it looks cool and different, and it presents an unusual challenge for car and driver. F1 seems curiously intent on making changes without pausing to consider if they are really needed.

    Secondly, the changes themselves all sound awful. Widening the track in so many places will ruin the character of the place and I’m not sure it will really promote overtaking all that much. After all, there will still only be one optimal racing line. I guess it will decrease the chances of contact between cars and/or cars leaving the circuit. Paradoxically, this may actually result in less action. Creating one long flat out stretch will result in a lot of very boring passes on the straight. Whoopee.

    Finally, the obsession with overtaking is kind of ruining the sport for me. Being able to overtake easily is not what F1 should be about. I started following the sport in 1995, so I’ve lived through refuelling, narrow track cars, grooved tyres, Ferrari dominance, tyre wars and all the rest. Even when it was hard to pass, there was still some excitement about it, there was skill in defending. Now we have thermal degradation tyres, engines turned down, huge turbulence and, worst of all, DRS. The excitement of a battle has pretty much vanished. Imagine imola 2005 with DRS. That race would be pretty well forgotten now and the sport would be poorer for it.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      1st April 2021, 15:18

      @frood19 I’m not so sure that I agree with your first point. I don’t think Albert Park generally provides exciting racing. It’s usually the first race of the season so I think there’s always a bit more excitement due to that but that races overall tend to be quite processional. I don’t think the track would be viewed as fondly by fans if it was in the middle of the season.

      It’s difficult to tell what effect these changes will have without seeing the finished product. The idea of widening the track doesn’t sound great but if some of the corners are reprofiled a bit to allow close battles, it could be good.

  8. Another example of the sport fixing unbroken stuff, and injecting money in unecological operations for the sake of bit more speed.

    I loved the way Albert Park was.

  9. Interesting, I though they would simply use the existing road at the T9-10 chicane instead of redoing everything.

    There also seems to be a recent trend of introducing higher speeds at tracks: Baku was hailed as the fastest street track, the planned Saudi Arabia is even faster track, these changes at Albert Park, the never-materialised changes at Monza removing the first chicane. I wonder if this continues in the future.

    1. @kaiie I’m pretty sure they’re resurfacing the whole track this year and using is as an opportunity to make changes at the same time.

    2. @kaiie Indeed for the flowing speed trend, it’s like they all want a Mugello track now.

    3. I also thought/hoped they would use the existing patch of road. The new bit looks almost straight so not demanding to tackle at all.

  10. I understand the logic of the changes. They clearly believe that the reason there is no overtaking is because the straights aren’t long enough, so by running from turn 6 down to turn 11 in a slipstream will give a chance to get close. I worry that turn 11 hasn’t got enough of a braking zone however, that it will be highway drs passes or nothing.

    There also seems to be a weird connection with “curved straights” and cars being able to get close, thinking Blanchimont at Spa / After Luffield at Silverstone / 130R at Suzuka. Its seems like there is always overtaking at these corners so having a curved straight with turn 8 then the new 9/10 corner might work well.

    1. @burden93 I don’t think the new continuous full-throttle section until T11 would become a DRS zone because high-speed corners and DRS don’t mix well, so approaching T11 DRS activated alongside another car in race trim would be unnecessarily risky. The same story as with Silverstone’s Abbey in 2018.

  11. It feels so weird seeing Albert Park as a normal park rather than as a racing circuit.

  12. Oh God, It’s not being Tilke’d is it?

    1. Ha Ha, just noticed 1st April 10:14, nice one Keith…..

      1. Tommy Scragend
        1st April 2021, 20:26

        You think he faked all the photos as well?

        1. I really really hope so…

  13. I’m not sure why they would make any changes to turn 1-3, considering that’s where the majority of action on the track has come from. Albert Park is (was?) a difficult circuit to drive, and most overtakes come from mistakes, I can’t see how widening the corners and removing tricky braking zones is going to help anything.

  14. Albert Park is such a beautiful place! I truly resent broadcast and race director hiding all landscape among the race. Same goes for Monaco.

  15. No one ever complained about the track layout. Why mess with it?

    1. They where going to resurface the entire track anyway, after 20+ years, so why not look at upgrading it at the same time? There have been plenty of quite boring races there, it is generally too narrow for F1 racing. Sure, it has not all been boring, but I think most of the excitement have come from it being the first race of the year with everything that comes with that. If side by side racing is improved, and if they have actually listened to feedback from the drivers, this could be a change for the better.

  16. You know, they could remove a couple more corners and we’d have pretty much an oval. Imagine how fast they could go then.

    F1’s US masters would be so proud.

    1. @dbradock Yeah. I’ve suggested getting rid of the T11-T12 curbs that separate the regular traffic sides or at least one of them.

  17. I was convinced this was a April’s Fools Joke but the AusGP organization has plenty of posts and news about it and always commented that it’s for real, so I guess it’s really happening (not just the resurfacing and minor tweaks)

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