Albert Park Circuit

Albert Park Circuit
Albert Park Circuit (2021–present)
LocationAlbert Park, Melbourne, Victoria (Australia)
Time zoneUTC+10:00 (UTC+11:00 DST)
Coordinates37°50′59″S 144°58′6″E / 37.84972°S 144.96833°E / -37.84972; 144.96833
Capacity~125,000 (44,000 seating)
FIA Grade1
Opened20 November 1953; 70 years ago (1953-11-20)
Re-opened: 7 March 1996; 27 years ago (1996-03-07)
Closed30 November 1958; 65 years ago (1958-11-30)
Major eventsCurrent:
Formula One
Australian Grand Prix (1996–2019, 2022–present)
Former:
Australian Drivers' Championship (1957–1958)
Grand Prix Circuit (2021–present)
Length5.278 km (3.280 miles)
Turns14
Race lap record1:20.235 (Mexico Sergio Pérez, Red Bull RB19, 2023, F1)
Grand Prix Circuit (1996–2020)
Length5.303 km (3.296 miles)
Turns16
Race lap record1:24.125 (Germany Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F2004, 2004, F1)
Original Circuit (1953–1958)
Length5.027 km (3.124 miles)
Turns9
Race lap record1:50.0 (United Kingdom Stirling Moss, Cooper T45, 1958, Formula Libre)

The Albert Park Circuit is a motorsport street circuit around Albert Park Lake in the suburb of Albert Park in Melbourne. It is used annually as a circuit for the Formula One Australian Grand Prix, the supporting Supercars Championship Melbourne SuperSprint and other associated support races. The circuit has an FIA Grade 1 license.

Although the entire track consists of normally public roads, each sector includes medium to high-speed characteristics more commonly associated with dedicated racetracks facilitated by grass and gravel run-off safety zones that are reconstructed annually. However, the circuit also has characteristics of a street circuit's enclosed nature due to concrete barriers annually built along the Lakeside Drive curve, in particular, where run-off is not available due to the proximity of the lake shore.

Design

A satellite view of the circuit just before race weekend 2018

The circuit uses everyday sections of road that circle Albert Park Lake, a small man-altered lake (originally a large lagoon formed as part of the ancient Yarra River course) just south of the Central Business District of Melbourne. The road sections that are used were rebuilt before the inaugural event in 1996 to ensure consistency and smoothness. As a result, compared to other circuits that are held on public roads, the Albert Park track has quite a smooth surface. Before 2007 there existed only a few other places on the Formula 1 calendar with a body of water close to the track. Many of the new tracks, such as Valencia, Singapore and Abu Dhabi are close to a body of water.

The course is considered to be quite fast and relatively easy to drive, drivers having commented that the consistent placement of corners allows them to easily learn the circuit and achieve competitive times. However, the flat terrain around the lake, coupled with a track design that features few true straights, means that the track is not conducive to overtaking or easy spectating unless in possession of a grandstand seat.

Each year, most of the trackside fencing, pedestrian overpasses, grandstands, and other motorsport infrastructure are erected approximately two months before the Grand Prix weekend and removed within 6 weeks after the event. The land around the circuit (including a large aquatic centre, a golf course, a Lakeside Stadium, some restaurants, and rowing boathouses) has restricted access during that entire period. Dissent is still prevalent among nearby residents and users of those other facilities, and some still maintain a silent protest against the event. Nevertheless, the event is reasonably popular in Melbourne and Australia (with a large European population and a general interest in motorsport). Middle Park, the home of South Melbourne FC was demolished in 1994 due to expansion at Albert Park.

The Grand Prix regularly draws crowds of over 270,000 spectators, with the 2022 drawing a record crowd of 419,114, including 128,294 on the main raceday. There has never been a night race at Albert Park, although the 2009 and 2010 events both started at 5:00 p.m. local time. The current contract for the Grand Prix at the circuit concludes in 2035.

Following the postponement of the Australian Grand Prix in 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the track underwent layout changes, the most notable part was the modification of the turn 9–10 complex from a heavy right-left corner to a fast-sweeping right-left corner into turns 11 and 12. Further modifications included the widening of the pit lane by 2 m (2.2 yd) and the reprofiling of turn 13. Also, some corners were widened such as turn 1, turn 3, turn 6, turn 7, and turn 15; and it is expected that these modifications will reduce qualifying lap times by as much as five seconds.

Everyday access

The Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit old layout in December 2017, while open to the public

During the nine months of the year when the track is not required for Grand Prix preparation or the race weekend, most of the track can be driven by ordinary street-registered vehicles either clockwise or anti-clockwise.

Only the sections between turns 3, 4, and 5, then 5 and 6, differ significantly from the race track configuration. Turn 4 is replaced by a car park access road running directly from turns 3 to 5. Between turns 5 and 6, the road is blocked. It is possible to drive from turn 5 on to Albert Road and back on to the track at turn 7 though three sets of lights control the flow of this option. The only set of lights on the actual track is halfway between turns 12 and 13, where drivers using Queens Road are catered for. The chicanes at turns 11 and 12 are considerably more open than that used in the Grand Prix, using the escape roads. Turn 9 is also a car park and traffic is directed down another escape road.

The speed limit is generally 40 km/h (25 mph), while some short sections have a speed limit of 50 km/h (31 mph), which is still slower than an F1 car under pit lane speed restrictions. The back of the track, turns 7 to 13 inclusive, is known as Lakeside Drive. Double lines separate the two-way traffic along most of Lakeside Drive with short road islands approximately every 50 m (55 yd) which means overtaking is illegal here. Black Swans live and breed in Albert Park, and frequently cross the road causing traffic delays, sometimes with up to five cygnets (young swans).

Approximately 80% of the track edge is lined with short parkland-style chain-linked fencing leaving normal drivers less room for error than F1 drivers have during race weekend. There is however substantial shoulder room between the outside of each lane and the fencing, which is used as parking along Aughtie Drive during the other nine months.

History

Albert Park Circuit (1953–1958)

Prior to World War II, attempts were made to use Albert Park for motor racing. The first was in 1934 but failed due to opposition, and a second attempt for a motorcycle race in 1937 similarly failed. Finally in 1953 the Light Car Club of Australia were able to secure use of the circuit for that year's Australian Grand Prix.

Start of the 1953 Australian Grand Prix.

Albert Park is the only venue to host the Australian Grand Prix in both World Championship and non-World Championship formats with an earlier configuration of the current circuit used for the race on two occasions during the 1950s. During this time racing was conducted in an anti-clockwise direction as opposed to the current circuit which runs clockwise.

Known as the Albert Park Circuit, the original 3.125 mi (5.029 km) course hosted a total of six race meetings:

Albert Park circuit main straight, pictured from above teams' garages in 2022

The November 1958 meeting was the last on the original incarnation of the circuit, as it closed shortly after.

Events

The 2014 Australian Grand Prix, viewed from the Eureka Skydeck
Current
Former

Race lap records

As of April 2023, the fastest official race lap records at the Albert Park Circuit are listed as:

Category Driver Vehicle Time Date
Grand Prix Circuit (2021–present): 5.278 km
Formula One Mexico Sergio Pérez Red Bull RB19 1:20.235 2 April 2023
FIA F2 Denmark Frederik Vesti Dallara F2 2018 1:30.712 2 April 2023
FIA F3 Switzerland Grégoire Saucy Dallara F3 2019 1:34.405 2 April 2023
S5000 Australia Aaron Cameron Ligier JS F3-S5000 1:40.3696 8 April 2022
Supercars Championship Australia Scott Pye Holden Commodore (ZB) 1:46.006 9 April 2022
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Max Vidau Porsche 911 (992) GT3 Cup 1:47.9868 1 April 2023
Grand Prix Circuit (1996–2020): 5.303 km
Formula One Germany Michael Schumacher Ferrari F2004 1:24.125 7 March 2004
Formula Holden Australia Todd Kelly Reynard 92D 1:49.246 March 1998
Formula 3 Brazil Bruno Senna Dallara F304 1:50.8640 30 March 2006
Formula 5000 New Zealand Ken Smith Lola T430 1:54.6975 28 March 2010
GT3 New Zealand Craig Baird Mercedes-AMG GT3 1:54.7311 22 March 2018
Group 7 United Kingdom Michael Lyons March 717 1:55.541 17 March 2013
Supercars Championship Australia Chaz Mostert Ford Mustang S550 1:55.7280 15 March 2019
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Cooper Murray Porsche 911 (991 II) GT3 Cup 1:58.3294 16 March 2019
Ferrari Challenge Indonesia Renaldi Hutasoit Ferrari 488 Challenge 2:00.0713 25 March 2018
Nations Cup Australia Paul Stokell Lamborghini Diablo GTR 2:00.685 8 March 2003
Formula 4 Australia Jayden Ojeda Mygale M14-F4 2:02.1683 17 March 2019
Super Touring New Zealand Jim Richards Volvo 850 2:03.547 8 March 1997
Formula Ford Australia Chaz Mostert Spectrum 012 2:04.4805 27 March 2010
GT4 Australia Ryan Simpson McLaren 570S GT4 2:05.9644 15 March 2019
Group A Australia Terry Lawlor Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R 2:07.9622 15 March 2015
Aussie Racing Cars Australia James Small Holden Commodore-Yamaha 2:16.0196 15 March 2008
Australian Mini Challenge Australia Chris Alajajian Mini John Cooper Works Challenge 2:17.7962 29 March 2009
Group C Australia Milton Seferis Holden VH Commodore SS 2:18.9539 14 March 2015
Pickup truck racing Australia Grant Johnson Holden Commodore Ute 2:22.3877 1 April 2006
Original Circuit (1953–1958): 5.027 km
Formula Libre United Kingdom Stirling Moss Cooper T45 1:50.0 30 November 1958
Sports car racing United Kingdom Stirling Moss Maserati 300S 1:55.8 25 November 1956

See also


This page was last updated at 2024-02-17 20:23 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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