It’s round 3 of the long 23 race calendar and whenever the Australian Grand Prix comes up I’m always reminded of the 2002 race which featured a very young, and local Mark Webber driving a Minardi (Currently Alpha Tauri) and finishing a heroic fifth place, whilst his teammate managed seventh place. The team was owned by an Australian business man at the time and they celebrated as if they had won that race, it was truly iconic and incredible to witness. Definitely one of my favorite races ever and it certainly deserves a re-watch!
The Australian Grand Prix has been held at Albert Park in Melbourne since 1996, with the previous Australian GP being held at the Adelaide street circuit. Albert Park can also be considered a street circuit but only just, as public roads are indeed used to shape up the counter clockwise, 14 corner circuit which for 2023 will feature four DRS zones to promote overtaking. Red Bull are almost certain to win here with a 90% success rate for the team, so it’s all to play for Mexico’s Sergio Perez and Championship leader, Max Verstappen.
The Dutchman has never won in Australia and he’s looking for a victory here at Albert Park, as both drivers stated that the controversial ‘’fastest lap issue’’ back in Saudi Arabia is now behind them. However Sergio Perez is determined to take the Championship fight to his teammate, and he’s notoriously good on street circuits, so watch out for those two up front.
For the 2022 Australian GP, the track layout changed slightly and some corners were widened to further improve the race quality. Thus the circuit flows really nicely and drivers can quickly find a rhythm. Turns 9 and 10 used to feature a chicane which has now been taken out, and a DRS zone replaces it. This makes turn 11 a prime overtaking spot, if one can follow closely through the fast sweeping turns 9 and 10 which is easier said than done. Other overtaking sports are the run up to turn 1, and turn 3 if the first attempt is unsuccessful.
Whilst Red Bull seem to be in a league of their own for the time being, Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin are in a close battle for second best. Fernando Alonso has shown us that age doesn’t mean a thing, as the oldest driver has so far managed to whip up two consecutive podiums, with a third very much in sight.
Mercedes meanwhile aren’t exactly slow but both Lewis Hamilton and George Russel complaining that it’s very hard to understand and predict what the car is going to do and thus setting up the car is proving to be quite a challenge and is time consuming. As a team I’m sure they’re also not very happy with their pace but expect their performance to improve by the time the sport reaches Imola.
Ferrari are also hoping for a much better result than their last outing in Jeddah. The Scuderia certainly have the pace but reliability seems to be a looming concern, and they seem to be struggling with tyre degradation and much like Mercedes, their set-up. Lead driver Charles Leclerc has stated that he’s not expecting miracles in Melbourne, but don’t contest them out of a championship fight just yet as they’re also working on bringing upgrades to Imola for a chance to turn their luck around.
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