A racier new Australian Grand Prix should be run in Melbourne in late November.
Major changes to the Albert Park track are intended to make the circuit faster, with more places to pass, and work will be complete in time for the Covid-delayed 2021 running of the AGP from November 18-21.
The revamp is the first significant update since the Formula One race moved from Adelaide to Melbourne in 1996 the the changes are well underway with earthmoving machinery already carving out the widened sections and removing the tight chicane on the run down Lakeside Drive. The work will include a complete resurfacing of the track, using a top layer that should produce more tyre degradation.
The update at Albert Park has been in the works for more than two years, with retired champion Mark Skaife heavily involved but with input from from engineers, organisers and drivers in Australia and from the Formula One world
“Making race days more exciting for everyone, that’s what we all want. Better races, more battles … the changes are going to push us towards that,” said hometown hero Daniel Ricciardo.
Seven of the Albert Park track’s corners are being modified, mostly widened to increase cornering speeds, as the sweep along Lakeside Drive becomes much straighter and faster with the likelihood of a new DRS overtaking zone.
“Come November, the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix will be back and better than ever,” says AGP CEO, Andrew Westacott.
His good news comes despite ongoing delays in a Covid-safe plan for the race. The Victorian government has still to provide details on the approved number of spectators for the event, or to open negotiations about travel restrictions and quarantine requirements for the Formula 1 teams.
Apart from the widening work and the removal of bumps through a total re-surfacing of the track, the camber of Turns 1, 13 and 15 will be changed to allow for multiple lines through the bends.
“Widening some of the apexes, creating more of a straight in some places for an opportunity for more slipstreaming … that was the priority, and I’m very confident that it’s going to be good,” said Ricciardo.
“With these (2021) 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.”