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Australian Grand Prix - What will circuit changes mean for F1?

Australian Grand Prix - What will circuit changes mean for F1?

F1 News

Australian Grand Prix - What will circuit changes mean for F1?

Australian Grand Prix - What will circuit changes mean for F1?

F1 returns to a revamped Albert Park this weekend for the first Australian Grand Prix since 2019.

The Melbourne venue has undergone major restructuring since the last event in order to promote more exciting racing action and provide better overtaking opportunities, hopefully working hand-in-hand with F1's new regulations.

So ahead of the first running at the new-look layout, GPFans takes you through the changes and what you can expect from the circuit.

What has changed?

Numerous corners have been reprofiled or removed altogether in the quest for better racing.

Turn one has been widened by two and a half metres at the apex, with the first heavy braking zone remaining at turn three.

This corner has also been widened, this time by four metres, with the aim of promoting more overtaking manoeuvres.

Turns four and five remain as they were but turn six has been widened by seven metres, radically increasing the apex speed.

The old turn nine-10 chicane is no more as it has been replaced by flat-out sweepers, leading to what was the high-speed 11-12 chicane.

The old turn 13 is now turn 11 at the end of a long drag which has been straightened on entry and widened by three and a half metres at its apex, although the corner radius has been tightened.

The final change comes at what was turn 15 which is now turn 13, where the track has again been widened by three and a half metres.

The whole track has been resurfaced for the first time since the inaugural race was held at the circuit in 1996, whilst the layout will incorporate four DRS zones - at the start-finish straight, between turns two and three, then turns eight and nine and finally between 10 and 11.

What lap times can we expect?

Whilst the track has yet to have been raced on by F1, online simulation platform rFactor2 has provided sim-racers the chance to test the waters around the new-look layout.

One championship to use the platform, GPVWC's Formula Sprint 1, saw a fastest qualifying time at the circuit of one minute 22.676s.

Respectfully, it is understood this is not a completely accurate representation of the layout but comparing pole position times from Bahrain in F1 and FS1, we should expect lap times around five seconds faster come qualifying on Saturday.

A pole time of a one minute 17s would put the new generation of cars around three seconds faster than the older generation of F1 car on the previous layout.

If the conditions are right and the new surface has settled, do not be surprised if the Ferraris and Red Bulls can find even more time.

Who will be fast?

The high-speed street circuit layout plays more into the realms of Saudi Arabia than Bahrain.

Whilst it is a given Red Bull and Ferrari will be battling for victory again, this puts Mercedes at risk of more pain if Lewis Hamilton's qualifying struggles continue.

McLaren is not where the team would want to be pace-wise, but the speed in Jeddah was an improvement so Lando Norris and home favourite Daniel Ricciardo will no doubt be hoping for further points.

For the rest of the midfield, Alpine, Haas and Alfa Romeo will again look to hang onto the coat-tails of the Mercedes drivers, whilst at the back, we should expect Williams and Aston Martin to again struggle.

Where can we see overtaking?

The two heavy braking points of relevance are turns three and 11, especially with both coming at the end of double-DRS bursts.

What will be interesting to see is whether the new cars and their ability to follow will allow wheel-to-wheel racing through the final sector, perhaps allowing overtaken drivers to fight back in turns 12, 13 and 14.

Anticipation is high to see whether the changes have worked. Only the race on Sunday will prove whether the alterations are right.

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