The second Australian Grand Prix in four years will take place at Albert Park this weekend and interestingly it’s a track where double world champion Max Verstappen has failed to register a victory.
The street circuit is made up of public roads and set next to a lake and also features a section through Lakeside Stadium’s parking lot. The 5.278 km-long track was resurfaced ahead of the 2022 race, in which Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc won ahead of Sergio Perez and George Russell.
The track is searingly quick with an average speed of over 235km/h achieved by Lewis Hamilton in his 2019 pole lap. It has 14 corners with an unprecedented four DRS zones, and it has traditionally been a place where drivers have found it difficult to overtake. The new regulations introduced in 2022 have tried to make cars follow one another more closely, although what has happened in the past is a long DRS train made up of several cars.
The first two DRS zones are located close to each other, the first one down the main straight from the final Turn 14 to Turn 1. A right-hand turn flings the cars into Turn 2 and the second DRS zone is found until the end of Turn 3. It will be interesting to see what effect the four DRS zones will have on the race on April 2.
Red Bull and Aston Martin are the in-form teams
With only two races to judge teams and drivers on, it’s clear Red Bull and Aston Martin have made the biggest impression. Mike Krack, Aston Martin’s Team Principal, told the F1 Nation podcast that the Silverstone-based team has more in its tank. That’s an ominous warning to Mercedes and Ferrari. Mercedes introduced a few changes to the W14 in Saudi Arabia but were unable to topple Fernando Alonso off the final step of the podium.
Alonso and teammate Lance Stroll seem very comfortable in the AMR23 and that builds confidence in terms of getting the most out of the car. They will look to Sunday’s race as another chance to upset the establishment.
Speaking of the establishment, there was a clear indication in Jeddah that Ferrari had turned down the wick on the SF-23. They had issues in Bahrain and finished sixth and seventh in Saudi Arabia. Team Principal Fred Vasseur will need to make a tough decision this weekend and decide if power is more important than reliability.
Mercedes showed an improvement in pace in Jeddah, but the forward momentum is still not where the team expects itself to be. The silver lining is that the W14 hasn’t had any reliability issues.
We’ll be keeping an eye on the Alpine duo of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon as well as Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg of Haas. We expect to see those drivers fighting amongst the top 10 and don’t forget a Safety Car in Melbourne is more than likely.
Listen to Sean Parker and Pierre Arries preview the Australian GP here –