Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2022

Drivers positive after first impression of “big change” to Albert Park track

2022 Australian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 drivers largely praised the changes to the Albert Park for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, saying they expect it will improve the racing.

As well as removing one slow chicane from the circuit, the track operators have widened several corners and tightened turn 11, with the goal of encouraging more overtaking.

Daniel Ricciardo, who gave input into the changes at his home track, said he expects a livelier race after his first day of running on the revamped course.

“I think it will be better,” said the McLaren driver. “Is it going to be 10 times better? Probably not to that extent, but I think it will be some degree better. I think also complemented by an extra DRS zone and the cars that can follow a bit better this year.

“If there’s not more overtaking I think you’re going to see at least closer racing and more kind of nose-to-tail [action].

“I think we’ll get a fun one Sunday, but I’m cautious not to oversell it because I honestly don’t know what the track will be. But the main thing today is it was an enjoyable driving experience.”

Max Verstappen, who ended the day second-quickest behind Charles Leclerc, said he appreciated the extensive resurfacing of the street circuit.

“It’s good, the track grip is quite nice. The bumps definitely improved, it’s a bit smoother.

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“But I think it actually makes the track nicer as well because you can attack the corners a bit better now, being a bit more smooth. So they did a good job with that, I enjoyed my laps today.”

Albert Park, Melbourne Formula 1 track map
Track data: Albert Park, Melbourne
However Lando Norris felt the track had lost some of its appeal following its reconfiguration. “It’s a big change,” he said. “Honestly I think it’s lost a little bit of the characteristic that it had.

“The track from a few years ago was the track that I’ve watched on TV for many years. So I kind of got to drive that and that was the Australia that I knew. But times change and I think for good reasons, it’s to make the racing better and make it more exciting. From what I felt today, it seems like it’s in that direction so it’s a good thing.”

The higher cornering speeds at the track have made it more physically demanding, Norris added. “It’s very easy to make mistakes. I don’t know if it’s just these cars or the combination of this Tarmac and the cars because you’ve seen a lot of people going on the gravel and locking the fronts and so on. It’s difficult to put it all together and stay consistent.

“But it’s exciting, it’s fast as well, physically it’s a bit tougher than what it used to be. And these cars they’re very fast in the high speed, so turn nine-10, the fast chicane feels very fast already. So it’s good fun. I think on the following side of it as well, I did a bit and it seems good and I think the race is going to be good as well.”

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2022 Australian Grand Prix

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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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13 comments on “Drivers positive after first impression of “big change” to Albert Park track”

  1. If tested positive, does that mean that they cannot race this weekend?

    1. @jff I assume you’re sarcastic, but not the same thing, LOL.

  2. It will be good for those who just want to see artificial push of a button passing but for those of us who want to watch some real racing and genuinely exciting overtaking that doesn’t feature drs it will probably not be especially fun.

    It’s just a shame that the only passing we get now is down to drs, just isn’t fun to watch as far as im concerned. They are making the mistake on many fronts that more is automatically better & that simply isn’t the right approach.

    1. I very much doubt it’ll be easy to overtake, none of the straights and DRS zones are really even that long, it will just mean that it is difficult to break away if you are less than 1 second ahead of the car behind. It will be a rare occurrence to see a driver completely ahead before they even get to the braking zone, which I am in favour of as DRS shouldn’t let them get the overtake done before braking.

      1. @mashiat my utter distain for the drs isn’t just about driving cars past before braking zones, yes that is the worst thing to see but even if it draws cars alongside the speed difference & momentum it provides shifts the balance too much and makes the pass easier than it should be and defending harder.

        I would just prefer to see some more genuine actual racing where cars slipstream and have more even speed when they get alongside so we see some actual competitive wheel to wheel racing where its more down to driver skill on the brakes than gimmicky mario kart speed boost buttons.

        With the slipstream you have less drag when behind the car so pull upto it but when you pull out you start to lose that speed advantage which gives us the competitivrpe wheen to wheel racing and driver skill on brakes as well also as timing as pulling out at the right moment to maximise the tow is more important.

        With drs you get the speed gain and never lose it and don’t have to think about timing it as much because of that. Its a speed gain at the push of a button in an fia approved passing zone that you don’t lose until you lift or brake for the turn. Its just not real racing or as satisfying to watch as far as i am concerned.

  3. Off topic but @keithcollantine please bring back the separate tab at the top of the page for info on each individual grand prix. Was so useful for TV times etc.

  4. I prefer this more flowing configuration over the original one.

  5. The elimination of what used to be Turn 9 should go down as a good decision. Also whatever they’ve done to Turn 4 seems to have made it trickier, and the circuit still punishes mistakes in a fair way which is nice. If DRS is too influential on the new layout, then that can be easily reverted if the willpower is there.

    1. If DRS is too influential on the new layout, then that can be easily reverted if the willpower is there.

      @ciaran Even if DrS proves to be too influential I doubt they will change it as i think they are happy to throw the stats around about how many ‘overtakes’ occured.

      I mean the DRS zone on the kemmel straght at Spa has always been way too influential and made overtaking far too easy yet it’s never really been changed even though it should have been removed completely due to not been neccisary at that place.

      All they care about is quantity now & so i expect more drs zones to generate as much highway passing as possible. Gott please the us nascar fans and netflix crowd who don’t care about real racing and who care only for that quantity as thats the liberty target audience.

      1. I don’t think the US dts fans watch Nascar, from my experience they’re two pretty different groups. If anything US f1 fans are more likely to watch nascar than the other way around. I would also reserve judgment on the extra DRS zones until after the race, Melbourne has been very difficult to pass on so this may just give us an average race in terms of overtakes. The detection points aren’t in overtaking spots like Bahrain or Jeddah either, so we should avoid drivers fighting over it like they have been.

  6. I like that picture…

  7. I am missing Turn 9 as it was one of the best spots to watch live.
    Not mentioning any names, but one driver in particular just could not get the braking right and had lots of lockups there and quite a few journeys into the trap.
    Anyway, Kimi has retired now so maybe removing the corner isn’t so bad.

  8. I dont get it. It’s just another straight added. If that improves racing, we should make tracks like in the 50’s and 60’s again with only straights and 4-6 turns.

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