Albert Park circuit is, as the name implies, set in a park. In a previous life it was used as a rubbish dump and also a military camp. In 1864, it was named in honour of Queen Victoria’s consort.
The race has taken place here every year since 1996, after moving from Adelaide, where it was traditionally the final round of the championship, making it hugely popular with team personnel, who always found a good excuse not to go back to a European winter after the race. Apart from the race track, Albert Park is famous for its beautiful wetlands which form a perfect habitat for some fantastic and exotic birds.
As a result, bird watching is taken quite seriously with some ‘twitchers’ travelling far and wide to view amongst others, the sulphur-crested cockatoo, the Willie Wagtail and the Laughing Kookaburra.
Formula One likes nothing better than a bit of tradition and at Albert Park there is always some good natured banter at the gates between officials, race fans and the Save Albert Park Group that have peacefully protested against the race since its inception. Melbourne can at times seem like one giant sports venue, with international tennis tournaments, world cycling championships and other sports.
The world famous Ironman Asia Pacific Championship takes place in Melbourne just a few days after the grand prix, with most of the action centred on St. Kilda, the nearest nightspot to the race track, famous for its noisy bars, live music and cake shops!
Jean Eric Vergne: I really like this track as it has a great layout and its location in a park makes it a great place to be. From a driving perspective, it is like a street circuit but with every type of corner, including some high speed turns. I have always felt quite comfortable at this circuit but have not gone so well there in the past, so I’m hoping that it will be different this year, although who knows what we can expect as the championship starts. But I like coming to Australia and this is definitely one of my top three races of the year. Australia in a few words? Faraway, hot, and a bit mysterious.
Daniil Kvyat: I have never driven the Albert Park circuit, but I’ve watched lots of the races there and seen the on-board footage, so I have a reasonable idea what to expect. The track is unusual and looks tricky. It will be my first time in Australia and I’m looking forward to that, especially as Daniel (Ricciardo) and his trainer Stuart are both from there and keep going on about how great it is. I hope to find time to visit the city. I’ll have to get a fridge magnet to add to my collection! As to how the race might go, it’s much too early to say, after just six days in the car in winter testing. This year, no one has any idea what to expect as you can tell from what happened in Jerez and Bahrain. It should be very interesting and I can’t wait to be on the grid for my first grand prix.
Subbed by AJN.