It has been two years since Formula 1 visited Albert Park in Melbourne. Racing is always entertaining and productive around here. The Australian Grand Prix is usually the season opener but, like many other things Covid has changed that up a little. After a McLaren team member was positive for Covid-19, the 2020 GP was cancelled. The news sent eagerly awaiting fans home, and racing down under was halted. The race was cancelled again due to strict quarantine restrictions and entry restrictions, despite Albert Park having been scheduled to return for the 2021 season.
F1 is ready to race in this new era. It pays to be patient, as there have been some modifications made to the circuit since our last visit. The corner entry at turn 13 was straightened and made wider to 3.5m. Corners three, six, and fifteen were all widened by 2.5m. We now know that new cars aren’t very responsive at slow speeds corners so this will benefit drivers and their machinery.
What should we expect from the teams this weekend? Mercedes are bringing an upgrade package to Melbourne and they believe this will allow them to get closer to the front and regain their dominance since their last visit in 2019.
Red Bull and Ferrari will continue to fight. With the odds slighly favoring Verstappen, with Leclerc closely behing and rightly so as I expect Red Bull to be slightly quicker around here. Already, welcome back banners have been placed around the circuit to welcome none other than, Daniel Ricciardo.
Albert Park has been a difficult place for the native Australian. Back at his time with Red Bull his best results were fourth and fifth, respectively. I’m sure he would want to put his awful 2019 opener behind him and get ready for his home grand Prix in 2022. That is if he can beat Lando Nortis his teammate, who has been a great driver in all of his races.
K.Mag finished sixth on his last trip down under in 2019 with Haas themselves having a great year in 2019, compared to the last two years. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Haas finish in the top ten once again, given the solid performances they have so far enjoyed in this new era.
Seb Vettel is hopeful as he will return racing, having missed the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian Grand Prix due to contracting Covid-19.
Bottas won the last race and is expected to be the next top 10 or top five finisher. If he can get his Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo around the circuit quickly enough, it’s also worth keeping an eye on the Alpines as their performance has been exceptional so far. Expect hard racing with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.
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