Melbourne using Aussie GP delay to remodel Albert Park track

Australian GP organisers are taking advantage of the postponement of their race to implement a few changes around Melbourne’s Albert Park street circuit.

The lingering coronavirus pandemic is forcing more disruption on F1’s calendar. Australia’s stringent travel restrictions and quarantine rules which remain in place have compelled Melbourne to push back its race, which was cancelled outright last year, to late November.

However, the delay has provided organisers with an opportunity to get a head start on a series of track changes that were planned in the future ahead of the 2022 race, starting with the resurfacing of the 5.3km circuit.

But the latter will also involve a slight remodeling of several areas to enhance overtaking opportunities.

Albert Park’s pitlane has already undergone work, with the stretch being widened to two meters.

Australian GP chief executive Andrew Westacott elaborated on the circuit’s changes.

“We’ve got good dialogue about where the specs and the cars are going to be for 2022,” Westacott told Speedcafe.com.

“One of the things that takes a fair bit of time is to actually look at a circuit and take into account its design based on the very important work, projected performance of the cars from the simulation and performance point of view.

“I guess the overriding principles of looking at and finalising what we can achieve by when is that, like any good circuit, we want to actually be able to reward brave driving. We want to be able to penalise sloppy driving.

“The circuit does need resurfacing so there are some areas where we can adjust camber and provide alternate and multiple lines into particular turns on the circuit.

“An example of that might be Turn 13, where there’s really only one line into that and you can’t actually overtake on the outside, because it’s negative camber.

“If that was positive camber and it was slightly widened so you had multiple options for the apex and so on, then suddenly with not terribly much effort you’re actually making a number of changes, a number of opportunities to enhance more than one path into particular turns.

“I think that the turns that present themselves with the opportunities for review tend to be Turn 13, Turn 3, maybe even Turn 6 a little bit with just changing the apex of the turn a bit.”

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Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was recently asked about the resurfacing of Albert Park, and stated that he hoped the track would retain a bit of its rough street circuit characteristics such as its few bumps in the road.

But Westacott highlighted the need to reconcile the drivers’ views with the requirement mandated by the FIA.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge because the obligation that we have is to have the circuit layout in conformance with the FIA guidelines and regulations,” he said.

“The FIA guidelines and regulations are somewhat opposed to what Valtteri and others say in terms of character.

“Now, a street circuit does still lend itself to having bumps and other things.

“If anyone’s ever ridden a circuit on a pushbike, just going over the painted white parking bays creates a vibration.

“So I think our first obligation is to put a circuit down that is in conformance with the FIA guidelines and specs, but I’d hope that if we get enough changes and improvements in a variety of the parameters then the rest of it will still make for a very, very exciting drivers circuit.”

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