The Australian Grand Prix will take place on an updated circuit layout this year after plans to modify the track were brought forward by the race’s postponement.
Melbourne usually hosts the opening round of the season, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to this year’s event being postponed to November, with the first race taking place in Bahrain next month. As a result of the delay, work that was originally set to be carried out after this year’s race will now be completed before, including significant modifications to the track at Turns 9 and 10.
What used to be a significant braking point into a tight right-hander at Turn 9 and sweeping Turn 10 onto Lakeside Drive will now become a much faster, sweeping section that is likely to be flat out. In turn that means the arrival speed at the Turn 11 and 12 chicane will be even higher, making it an even more challenging complex.
The following Turn 13 will also be reprofiled, with work also taking place on minor modifications around the following two corners, as well as at Turn 1, Turn 3 and Turn 6.
These changes are the second phase of developments at Albert Park, with the pit lane having already been widened. Phase two will begin on Monday (February 22) and is expected to be completed by July, with the final phase including the first resurfacing of the venue since 1995, that will take place after this year’s event.
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) says the aim of the development is “to increase the lifespan of the Albert Park Circuit and improve racing” as well as to enhance Albert Park as a whole, including providing more usable space.
Daniel Ricciardo told Speedcafe that a number of drivers had been consulted when the changes were being discussed, in order to get an understanding of what might improve the track from a racing perspective.
“I was aware of some talks about that and I was shown a few options of maybe track layout — they asked a few of us drivers to give some input,” Ricciardo said. “I was one that gave some feedback at the time, so I’m certainly not claiming anything, but I was aware of it.
“It was quite cool that they brought us drivers in on the conversation to understand what would make the race, I guess, better as a spectacle and more exciting.
“It’s always been a fun track to drive around, but the Sundays can sometimes be a little bit difficult for overtaking. If it helps out the Sunday and increases overtaking and wheel-to-wheel battles, that’s obviously what we want.”